Juventus emerging as title contenders
Juventus suffered last season following one of the worst campaigns in their glorious history. There were multiple reasons behind their collapse such as instability due to coaching changes, a number of injuries to key players, the management’s bad decisions in the transfer market and the age factor catching up with star players among other factors. Fast forward to this season and the Bianconeri look completely different in terms of their performances on the pitch, in particular their fighting spirit which has been visible in a number of games.
Against Fiorentina, the Bianconeri struggled to score yet the players refused to give up and Simone Pepe was able to grab a late and deserved goal to earn a precious point. Last season, Juventus would have quit and would have probably ended up on the losing side given the same circumstances but this is a different Juve and the results back this up. Last weekend, the Bianconeri managed to snatch a late and precious win over Lazio to rise to second place ahead of Lazio and Napoli on goal difference. So what are the main factors behind the return of Juve as a force in Serie A?
One of the most important factors is the change in the management which has enabled the Bianconeri to make the right decisions when it comes to hiring a new coach and getting involved in some shrewd player signings. New coach Luigi Delneri has shown he is not just a capable tactician but also one who can motivate his players to get the best out of them. The Bianconeri squad is lacking in terms of full-backs and is in need of a striker capable of scoring between 16 and 20 goals a season, but Delneri has been able to revive the career of Felipe Melo and Alberto Aquilani while getting the best out of other players. Juventus lost only twice in Serie A this season and have an impressive against the top teams including wins against Milan and Lazio as well as draws with Inter and Roma.
Another reason for the revival is down to the summer transfer campaign which might have disappointed some but turned out to be a positive one with loan signings Aquilani, Simone Pepe and Fabio Quagliarella all contributing this season. One of the best summer transfers in Serie A must be Milos Krasic who has been a difference make for the Bianconeri. Besides the players brought in, Juventus did even better in terms of dispensing of some of the unwanted squad members such as Jonathan Zebina and Tiago while Fabio Cannavaro did not get a renewal offer after a dismal campaign. The outgoing players were a combination of aging and underachieving names so the Bianconeri did benefit tremendously by offloading players who could have had a negative influence on the squad.
There are other factors which have helped the recovery process and the re-emergence of Juventus, yet for the Bianconeri supporters the fighting spirit and commitment shown by the players on almost every weekend must rank on top of the list. The Old Lady prided itself on the dedication and never die attitude of the players, both of which were hallmarks of the prestigious Juve squads prior to the Calciopoli scandal which hit the club hardest.
Delneri and the likes of Krasic could signal the beginning of a new era of success in Turin as long as a couple of other players, in particular a full-back and a goal scorer, are added to the squad. Obviously, a talented Milan side spearheaded by former Juve striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic might also stand in the way between Juve and immediate success in Serie A. However, the future does look bright for Juve with Leonardo Bonucci maturing in his defensive role as a partner for Giorgio Chiellini while the squad includes a host of players who are still in the mid 20s such as Krasic and Aquilani.