Juventus seek means to take domestic dominance into Europe
Rome: Juventus, winners of a third successive Serie A title on Sunday, must now decide whether the formula which has given them a firm grip on Italian football will keep working for another season and make an impact in the Champions League.
With most of their rivals mired in financial difficulties or administrative chaos, Juventus, one of the few top teams using a 3-5-2 formation, did more than repeat the recipe they used for the previous two seasons as they won a record 30th league title.
Juventus have been remarkably stable during the last three years.
Gianluigi Buffon has been almost ever-present in goal with defenders Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini nearly always forming the three-man defence.
The midfield has invariably featured Switzerland`s Stephan Lichtsteiner and Ghana`s Kwadwo Asamoah on the flanks, with three out of Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal forming a fluid triangle in the middle.
The only big change this season has been in attack where the fixed Carlos Tevez-Fernando Llorente partnership has replaced the previous season`s chopping and changing.
However, with Pirlo past his 35th birthday and Conte determined to avoid complacency, the club may be tempted to shake up the team, especially if they want European success.
The biggest question mark hangs over the future of 21-year-old midfielder Pogba, who has blossomed since joining two seasons ago from Manchester United, where he failed to make the team.
Although Juventus have identified him as a potential successor to Pirlo, some of Europe`s biggest clubs have also shown interest and there has been speculation that Real Madrid and Paris St Germain would both be prepared to pay up to 70 million euros ($97.06 million) for the Frenchman.
Juventus might find that sort of money too good to resist, although general manager Giuseppe Marotta insisted on Sunday that Pogba would be staying.
"It`s unthinkable that he would leave," Marotta told Sky Sport Italia. "Paul is intelligent and knows that he has the chance to improve here."
"We`ll sit down calmly with Conte next week," he added. "We`re proud of our coach, one of the best in the world. He`s part of Juventus` patrimony."
Europe, however, has been a different story.
Having gone out to all-conquering Bayern Munich in the Champions League last season, Juventus then fell in the group stage this term and were beaten in the Europa League semi-finals by Benfica.
Conte said that it would need some old-fashioned Italian cunning rather than big spending to improve on that record.
"It`s not easy for us to acquire players who cost 30 million euros or even 15 million," he said.
"But nobody is ever happy to play an Italian team in Europe. Our teams are stubborn, in spite of the difficult financial times.
Juventus are by far the best organised of the leading Serie A clubs, enjoying the huge benefit of playing in their own, modern stadium.
While their rivals pay to play in over-sized, wind-swept arenas which they rarely fill, Juventus enjoy passionate support at their compact arena which is invariably packed, despite its unpopular location on the outskirts of the city.
AS Roma, who pushed Juve further than expected in their first season under Rudi Garcia to finish second, appear to be on the right track and have announced plans to build their own arena in time for the 2016-17 season.
Napoli, who beat both Roma and Juventus during the course of their campaign, could also be a threat next season if they can find some consistency, especially against lower-ranking teams.
Inter Milan are still adapting to life under the ownership of Indonesian business tycoon Erick Thohir and AC Milan have become mired in perpetual transition and improvisation.