Ahead of Manchester City's opening Champions League clash with Juventus, we take a look at five players to be wary of at the Etihad Stadium next Tuesday.
The timeless Buffon enters his 15th season as Juventus’ top keeper. A natural born leader, Buffon has established himself as the cornerstone of the club both on and off the pitch since joining the club from Parma in 2001.
Fresh off his 150th cap for the Azzurri, Buffon carries almost 20 years of first team experience; he made his first start in the Serie A back on 19 November 1995, just two weeks after Raheem Sterling’s first birthday.
The 22-year old Frenchman was one of the most talked about players throughout the summer transfer window. Despite rumors aplenty connecting him to Chelsea, Barca, and City among others, the skilful midfielder has remained in Turin for at least another season.
After Manchester United decided not to retain the attacking midfielder, Pogba joined Juve for the 2012-2013 season and quickly established himself as one of the game’s brightest young talents. Pogba is one of the most difficult offensive forces to contain as he combines a rocket shot with size, strength, and a pillow-soft first touch.
Always capable of pulling out a moment of brilliance, Pogba should continue to headline a Juve side that has had to deal with a sizeable turnover in personnel.
While Pogba might dominate the headlines and highlights, Giorgio Chiellini is the motor that keeps Juve running smoothly.
The defender has manned the backline for the Bianconeri since 2005 after spending time at Livorno, Roma, and Fiorentina. Alongside fellow Italian Leonardo Bonucci, Chiellini spearheads a fearsome Juventus backline that also includes Italian Andrea Barzagli and Uruguayan Martin Caceres.
In last year’s Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, Chiellini was the key man successful in shutting down one of the world’s most potent attacks. A tough defender with a penchant for hard, timely tackles, Chiellini will look to make life difficult for an imposing City frontline bolstered by a healthy summer signing period.
While Juventus’ midfield and defence resemble those of past years, their front line has been completely revamped.
Dybala is half of the new duo brought in to replace Tevez and Llorente. Only 21 years of age, Dybala comes to Turin from Palermo where he registered 13 goals and 10 assists last season.
Not only is the young Argentine skilled on the ball, he is durable. Last year Dybala played 2965 minutes in Serie A, third among all strikers. In his short career Dybala has already received comparisons to a few other legendary undersized Argentines.
While Dybala is the young, relatively unproven addition to the squad, Mandzukic is the experienced operator who bags goals by the bundle wherever he goes. Another difference between the two new Juve boys is that while Dybala is lauded for his pace and distribution, Mandzukic has made his name through strength and a nose for goal.
Only once in the Croatian’s nine year senior career has he failed to score at least 10 goals. The former Bayern, Wolfsburg, and Atletico man comes to Turin with high expectations as he and Dybala will try to replace the 46 goals lost along with the departures of Tevez, Llorente, and Vidal.
Mandzukic has hit the ground running with Juve, having already collected his first goal in Juve’s Supercoppa victory back in August. Another 20 goal season for Mario would make it the fourth straight season in which he’s achieved that feat.
City begin their Champions League campaign against last season’s finalist Juventus on Tue 15th Sept at 7.45pm. For a first glimpse of new signings Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi, make sure you’re there to support the team for what promises to be an exciting night of European football. Buy your tickets now or enjoy the game in the new 93:20 bar from £67 + VAT.
Show your support for City U19s who also face Juventus, on the same day as the first team, in the UEFA Youth League. Kick-off is 5pm at the Academy Stadium. Tickets available now; Cityzens can redeem a free match ticket for this fixture now and non-Cityzens can purchase tickets.