Juventus won the Serie A title for the first time since 2006, and one that actually counts in the history books for the first time since 2003. The biggest club in Italy had to six years after being relegated to get back on top, but eventually, finally, they found the right formula to win their 28th title.
Sew now a third star on the kits? Two titles were taken away, one was given to Inter. There has been much talk of this lately, as the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal still resonates in the league. Juventus took a harder hit than any of the other clubs, while some say Inter walked away cleanly, yet unfairly.
But those kind of allegations disappear when there’s enough cause for celebrations.Juventus’ 2-0 win over Cagliari wouldn’t have been enough on its own, but Milan falling once again in the derby this season paved the way for the party on the pitch at the Nereo Rocco, with 15,000 Juventus fans invading the pitch.
The foundations for this title were already set last season, which wasn’t a memorable one for the Bianconeri. The arrivals of Fabio Quagliarella, Simone Pepe and Alessandro Matri couldn’t change the fortunes of the club immediately, but the right kind of summer, helped with lack of a European front to steer the team off track made for a happy ending. A deserved ending for a team that hasn’t lost once this season.
The arrivals of Andrea Pirlo, Mirko Vucinic and Stephan Lichtsteiner completed the puzzle, while Antonio Conte proved, despite some low moments this season which were mostly about scoring struggles, to finally be the right selection to steer the ship from the sidelines.
It was more proof of how not playing with a dominant striker, a true ’9′, might even help you these days. Matri wasn’t part of most of the big wins later during the season. Andrea Pirlo surprised everyone by remaining healthy all through the season while Mirko Vucinic returning to the lineup for the final stretch proved to be the big keys for the title, responsible for almost every good thing that happened on Juve’s offense lately.
Gianluigi Buffon wasn’t mistake-proof and so wasn’t Leonardo Bonucci, who had his share of mistakes alongside the wonderful Georgio Chiellini. But some numbers don’t lie, and Juventus conceded only 19 goals on their way to the title, keeping a clean sheet 19 times. Even when things didn’t click offensively, there was at least the certainty of stability behind.
It was closure for Del Piero and Buffon, more than everyone. Two players who serve as the only relics to the great team of before the relegation and the scandal, who did not leave the club in it’s darkest hour, and lingered long enough to enjoy the long road back from the lowest point. This might be Del Piero’s last season, maybe even as a player, but the few sweet moments he did have and gave the fans this season won’t be soon forgotten.
Many waited for the fall of Inter. There’s this theory that goes around that usually says this – The strength of Italian football is portrayed through the state of AC Milan and Juventus. The league is strong, or stronger, and of course much more popular, when the two teams are thriving and controlling the league. When Inter grows too strong, the sun shines just a bit less bright.
Inter still might make the Champions League, but there’s no doubt there is some sort of professional crisis on the blue side of Milan. Goal line technology here and there, maybe Zlatan would have won his ninth consecutive league title. Milan relying too much on their Swedish striker was also something that hurt them along the way.
Is this the start of a new age for Juventus, accompanied with European success and dominance? It’s hard to say. Like Dortmund (who started playing well only after their Champions League exit), Juventus seem to be just as good as plenty of teams who made it rather far this season in Europe’s finest competition. They may not have the shiniest of squads, but like Dortmund, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.