Juventus come up against a familiar face tomorrow as they play Antonio Conte and his new project, hated rivals Inter Milan in the International Champions Cup in China.
Speaking ahead of the game though, manager Maurizio Sarri was not concerned so much about the opponents as the conditions and his ability to bring out the best of his players.
Paulo Dybala’s best position has been a topic of hot debate among Bianconeri faithful for a couple of seasons now, and Sarri believes he has the answer.
“I think Dybala can play as a false nine quite comfortably.
“We can also set up the attack slightly differently, with the 4-3-1-2 and Dybala playing on the right of a front two.”
The heat and humidity has taken a toll on Juve who have only had their players back in preseason training for a week or so.
“We’ll try to give continuity to the good things we did in the second half in Singapore.
“Juve-Inter won’t be a match like any other, although I don’t think the two teams will able to play their best football, given these temperatures and this level of humidity.
“Our coaching school is one of the most important in the world, that seems quite clear to me.
“Tactically our movement is one of the best, although we may not have the financial resources of the English.”
Fans have also been curious about who should be the captain of Juventus going into the new season, especially with GIanluigi Buffon returning to the club this summer, with the manager leaning towards the incumbent Giorgio Chiellini.
“The captain is Chiellini, as agreed with Buffon. If there’s no Giorgio we go for the next player with the most appearances and Bonucci has the most.
“I told the lads that it was my idea, but I was willing to listen to others and things went well.
“For me, however, the armband is only symbolic. The captain has the right attitude in the dressing room.”
It appears some sections of the English media reported that there had been an argument between Sarri and Cristiano Ronaldo during the game against Tottenham Hotspur.
“We agreed to let him play for an hour. Ronaldo asked me how much time he had left before coming off.
“I told him 5-6 minutes and at the time of his substitution, I only asked him how he was.
“We’ll use him mainly as a forward on the left wing, knowing that he loves to shoot. He must make the difference.”
Meanwhile, Conte in his comments indicated that a return to Juve this summer after Massimiliano Allegri left was never on the cards, and that
“No, I’ve never been close to the Juventus bench. I never received any phone calls, it was always Inter who showed great affection and interest in me.
“It’s for that reason I feel the great responsibility towards my new club, to build something that isn’t present at the moment.
“If Juve made that decision, they’ll have had good reasons. It’s not for me to judge him (Sarri).
“Certainly, there will be emotion on my part. It’s the first time I’ve faced the Bianconeri as an opponent since my relationship with them ended.
“Seeing so many of my friends again will be exciting, but that will all be put to one side once the game starts. Juve are an opponent for me and Juve also consider me as such.”