By Kris Voakes
If last season’s Scudetto was about redemption, this one has made a serious statement. Juventus are champions of Italy again and the celebrations witnessed on the streets of Turin on Sunday could well become an annual feature of Serie A over the foreseeable future such is the Bianconeri’s position of dominance right now.
There were fanciful claims at various stages this term that a veritable Scudetto ‘race’ was on, but the truth is that the Bianconeri have been simply untouchable since beating Parma on opening night. They may well have lost their 18-month long unbeaten league record to Inter in November and gone down in three further games since then, but their consistency of force has been such that there is little hope of a true challenge to them for a couple of years at least.
Last term they drew a huge number of games, but this time they’ve had the wherewithal to eke out three points where previously they may have had to settle for one. Whenever any side has got even remotely close to Juve’s points tally, the champions have upped their game and pulled clear once more. They have clinched the title with three rounds to spare and that is a more than fair reflection of just how superior they have been.
|SERIE A DYNASTIES
For four years after Calciopoli, Inter dominated. They won the heavily-handicapped 2007 title by 22 points and also triumphed with something to spare in 2009, but in 2008 and 2010 it took goals in the second halves of their final games to clinch the title. In comparison, having secured their first crown since those dark days in Serie B in the penultimate round of 2011-12, this season has shown just how much Juventus are building a potential empire, one which will take quite a coup to halt.
With Gianluigi Buffon set to go on in goal for a number of years yet, there has been a great consistency about their defensive line this term. And when Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci or Giorgio Chiellini have been missing, Martin Caceres has shown to be an able enough replacement. Ahead of them, the first-choice ‘MVP’ midfield has been superbly supported – infiltrated even – by the rise of Paul Pogba, with Emanuele Giaccherini only 11 months removed from participating in Euro 2012 for Italy and the versatile Simone Padoin and talented Luca Marrone still to show their best.
Consider the form of Stephan Lichtsteiner, arguably the best wing-back in the game right now, and Kwadwo Asamoah, who has slotted in superbly on the left, and Juve are perhaps two good strikers away from boasting the kind of quality and quantity in every position that many other clubs are struggling to attain in more than one department. AC Milan have a forward line which could be truly explosive in the coming years, but their defence is regularly shot to pieces and the midfield line needs serious attention too. Inter, meanwhile, need a severe overhaul, while Napoli have flair but no depth in the attacking departments and nothing much of anything defensively.
It all adds up to a huge advantage for the Old Lady on the pitch, and simply mirrors the gap which currently exists off it. The club’s balance sheet is something of an anomaly in Italian football in the 21st century, with huge profits being made since the move to Juventus Stadium. With the muscle necessary to strengthen their first team, the international pull to continue making money like no other Serie A club and the kind of matchday revenue that only they can rake in due to their unique ownership of their own stadium, the Bianconeri simply appear to be an unstoppable machine at this moment in time.
The truth is that the only thing that can possibly stop Juventus from dominating Serie A for at least the next half-decade is Juventus themselves. With anything approaching careful management, they will win the Scudetto again next year, and it will take something extraordinary for them to even be challenged in the following campaign. And given two more years of trophies, profits and increased revenue streams, they can surely only be in an even stronger position in relation to the rest of the country.
So congratulations once more to Juventus, the best team in Italy last season, this season and a few seasons still to come.