By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Writer
In many ways, it was the perfect evening. Juventus started well, scored goals at the right times, and restricted Chelsea to the odd dangerous counter-attack. As statements of intent go, the Bianconeri’s 3-0 mauling of the Champions League holders was among the most convincing you could get. The Old Lady is not just alive and kicking, she’s singing from the rooftops and back among the best Europe has to offer.
Yes, Juve are not qualified yet, and they face a tricky trip to Donetsk on December 5 needing a draw to finish off the job. Yes, they lived dangerously at times as the Premier League outfit threatened to pick them off on the break when the game was still in the balance. But the Bianconeri dominated for long periods, controlled the midfield, made twice as many chances as the Blues, and forced Petr Cech into a number of saves which ensured he was the visitors’ busiest player. Make no mistake about it, this was a booming declaration that Juventus are back.
Their Scudetto triumph gave them a leg up; it was their first step on the road back to redemption after the Calciopoli scandal ripped the heart out of the club. But a club’s European record is the real measure of its success in most eyes in the 21st Century, and an outfit that has so often failed to convert domestic dominance into continental crowns in the past needs to be in amongst the greats of the game to be taken seriously.
|MATCH FACTS | Juventus 3-0 Chelsea
Their performance at Juventus Stadium was cutting, it was controlled and it was convincing. Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio once more had the better of the game across the middle. Fabio Quagliarella showed the striker’s instinct the Bianconeri have sometimes lacked in poking home the opening goal, and once Vidal fired in a deflected second, Chelsea looked more than ready to throw in the towel. Sebastian Giovinco’s injury-time clincher was simply the icing on the cake.
After their difficulties in the early part of the campaign, they are now in a great position to advance. And if they do, they will be a big threat. None of the Barcelonas, Real Madrids, Manchester Uniteds or Bayern Munichs will relish facing the Old Lady come February, with Juve now a very different prospect to the side which briefly flirted with a return to Europe with little success in 2008 and 2009. Forget those two campaigns, they weren't reflective of the great Turin club at their best. Forget even their horror show against Nordsjaelland. At this moment in time, they look ready for the task.
They’re still maybe a striker short of being among the very best, and if there was one warning tonight it was that their tendency to occasionally leave their back three exposed can cause them a few scares. But the positives massively outweigh the negatives, and the high-energy, slick style with which they try to play the game whoever the opposition deserves to be applauded.
Juventus are well and truly back, and they need just one more point to give themselves a chance to ruffle the feathers of those they’ve had to sit back and watch for the last six years. It’s in their hands now.