Let’s start with a question this week. When a club clinch the title after winning just 12 points from the first 10 matches of the season, which league are we talking about
Let’s start with a question this week. When a club clinch the title after winning just 12 points from the first 10 matches of the season, which league are we talking about If your answer isn’t Serie A, you must be a cricket fan. After such a diabolical start, Juventus dropped only two points in the next 25 matches to retain the Scudetto with three rounds to spare this season. An incredible run like Juve’s had not occurred in a top league in recent memory. It was the Old Lady’s fifth crown on the trot. Even the dyed-in-the-wool Juve supporters wouldn’t have believed in their team’s title chances in the aftermath of the dire start.
Those who have no love lost for the Italian league are sure to say that Juve owe the sensational comeback to the weak spine of their opponents than to the strength of theirs. Although the suggestion is tinged with cynicism, there is an element of truth to it. Juventus have been so far ahead of the other so called title contenders these days that the title race in Serie A becomes academic from the start. Maybe Juve wanted to inject some interest to the competition this season. The decline of AC Milan and Inter is calamitous and the likes of Napoli and Fiorentina are good but not good enough to challenge Juve.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who epitomises the resilience as well as the excellence of the Turin giants, has called the Serie A title this season the best of the seven he has won with the team. Juve are rich by Italian standards but they can’t match the spending power of Manchester City or PSG. Just as the Italian club know how to defend a lead, they are also well trained to invest judiciously. Juve have an eye for talent and they have the knowhow to squeeze the maximum from each one in their squad. A massive flop with Chelsea, Juan Cuadrado became an integral part of Juve right after joining the Italian team. Patrice Evra had few takers in England after his Manchester United days were over but he quickly established himself in the starting XI of Juve.
In managerial selection, too, the Bianconeri know what they do. When Antonio Conte left two years ago to take up the Italian national job, the Juve management picked Massimiliano Allegri, who settled in the Turin hot seat seamlessly. Allegri has done even better than Conte by taking the team to the final of the Champions League. Only the might of Barcelona could deny them the title last year. One of the main reasons for Juve’s success is they build their team around Italian players to ensure continuity. Playing for Juve is the ultimate goal for many Italians, so they don’t hanker after transfer to Inter or Milan after a couple of seasons. In Frenchman Paul Pogba and Argentine Paulo Dybala, they have two of the most exciting young players in Europe. The Old Lady of Turin can mount a credible challenge for the Champions League in the next two years if their two prized assets stay put. Don’t be surprised if Juve strain all their financial sinews to lure Marco Verratti from PSG sooner than later because the midfielder has all the attributes to become another Andrea Pirlo and the best place for Italy’s best player today is Juventus.