Juventus will finish on top of the league table regardless of the result of Week 38. The Bianconeri defeated Cagliari 2-0 while Milan lost 2-4 to Inter to confirm Juve as this season’s champions. Below is a list of the most important factors behind Juve’s triumph:
a) Andrea Pirlo: The Italy midfielder has been perhaps Juve’s most influential player this season. Pirlo is not outspoken and is not flashy, preferring instead to let his feet do the talking for him. The midfielder has scored three goals and provided 13 assists in 35 league games. His influence extends way beyond those stats since the majority of Juve’s attacking moves go through him.
b) Antonio Conte: Coach Conte has now won Serie A both as a player and a manager with Juve. His fighting spirit and determination as a player were crucial to his status as a captain of the club and now he has transmitted this mentality to the players. Conte has also learned from some of his mistakes and he can only improve next season and on.
c) No Europe: Juve did not have to worry about European football since the club finished seventh last season. Milan, the main competition, had to deal with the demanding Champions League fixtures, including having to play Barcelona on four occasions.
d) No Injuries: The Bianconeri have been relatively injury-free with only minor setbacks to players such as Simone Pepe, Andrea Barzagli and most recently to Paolo De Ceglie. However, none of these injuries forced a particular player to miss more than a couple of games. On the other hand, rivals Milan faced a plethora of injuries with important players such as Alexandre Pato, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Gennaro Gattuso as well as Antonio Cassano’s lengthy absence following his heart procedure.
e) Defensive Line: Juve conceded only 19 goals in 37 matches which is quite an impressive record. The club’s defense has been solid throughout the season with the exception of a few mistakes committed by Leonardo Bonucci as well as Gianluigi Buffon’s blunder against Lecce last week.
f) Midfield: It would be unfair to signal out one players from the midfield without mentioning the others. As such, credit must go (in addition to Pirlo of course) to midfielders Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio and Simone Pepe. Marchisio and Pepe managed to score 9 and 6 goals respectively in the league while Vidal has been relentless with his runs, defensive and attacking efforts. Vidal also contributed with 7 goals to Juve’s cause in Serie A. It must be said Juve’s pressing game requires a tremendous effort and endless running from the club’s midfielders.
g) Transfers: The signing of Vidal, Pirlo, Mirko Vucinic and Stephan Lichtsteiner during the summer was crucial to building this successful Juve side. In addition, the mid-season move for Martin Caceres was a useful one since the Uruguayan is capable of performing in a number of positions. It must also be said that Juve also shipped out a number of players who were either ineffective or perhaps even damaging to the locker room. The Bianconeri loaned out Felipe Melo and Vincenzo Iaquinta while also dispensing of one of the fans’ least favorite players in the shape of Amauri.
Juve’s transfer campaign as well as the club’s hiring of Conte, the form of Pirlo and several other key players such as Vidal have been the major catalysts behind the club’s return to the summit. It will be interesting to see how Juve will manage next season with the demanding fixtures in the Champions League.
It will be very hard to manage both European and domestic football and it is doubtful the club can repeat this historic achievement of going 37 matches without a defeat in the league. This is due to the need to rest and rotate players to avoid fatigue and injuries while remaining competitive on all fronts. One can bet on Juve’s management and coaching staff to make the right decisions just as they did during this past summer.
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