Last weekend’s victory against Cagliari sealed the Scudetto, but with the win over Atalanta on Sunday, Conte and his men secured their place in the history books having gone the entire season unbeaten, the first to do so in the 20-team format of the league. What would have been a memorable day in its own right was compounded by the fairytale send-off of Alessandro Del Piero. A trademark goal marked the end of a glittering career at Juve, a legend bidding farewell to his adoring fans, who provided a fitting standing ovation as he circled the pitch in a lap of honour. While it is the last time we will see the club icon in Serie A action, he may still have a part to play in next weekend’s Coppa Italia final.
Individually, there have been stand-out performers in this Juventus side, but collectively they have all earned the praise and plaudits currently being lavished upon them. From Gigi Buffon and his impermeable defence, to the hard-working and elegant combination in midfield, through to the at times frustrating yet efficient strike force. Despite the number of disappointing mid-season draws, the Bianconeri have proved themselves worthy of the title, and have everything in place to lay the foundations of a new era of success. With the added stress or excitement - depending on which way you see it - of the Champions League next season, the management staff will know they are perhaps one or two signings away from potentially being competitive with the European powerhouses for the foreseeable future.
Del Piero celebrating his last Juve goal?
As with any season, the highs and lows are remembered in equal measure. However, I’ve picked out five games that were integral on the road to the Scudetto. For those of you who disagree, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below.
1) Juventus 2-0 Milan (Oct 2) – an early season win over a struggling Milan side looking to defend their crown. A brace from Claudio Marchisio, with a little help from Daniele Bonera and Christian Abbiati, was enough to kick-start the memorable campaign.
2) Inter 1-2 Juventus (Oct 29) – the first Derby d’Italia of the season ended in victory thanks to Mirko Vucinic and Marchisio goals either side of a Maicon strike. Early momentum continued.
3) Napoli 3-3 Juventus (Nov 29) – 3-1 down with 20 minutes remaining, not only was this the biggest test for Conte up to that point but perhaps also the biggest threat to the unbeaten record all season. Great determination and unwillingness to surrender to defeat, goals from Marcelo Estigarribia and Simone Pepe ensured Juve returned to Turin with a point.
4) Milan 1-1 Juventus (Feb 25) – Sulley Muntari’s ‘ghost goal’ aside, Alessandro Matri’s equaliser kept the title race evenly balanced going into the final stretch, with a win for Milan perhaps handing them the momentum to surge ahead.
5) Fiorentina 0-5 Juventus (Mar 17) – the game that marked the beginning of an eight-game winning streak, which saw Juve leapfrog Milan into top spot and move ahead of their rivals. Having frustrated throughout the season by dropping points from strong positions, this result saw Juve break free and play a more ruthless style of football. The Bianconeri went on to win ten of their last 11 games.
Having held this position for three seasons, and following the disappointment of the previous two, it is both refreshing and delightful to see the Old Lady return to where she belongs. The argument over whether this is the 28th or 30th title will be left for others to debate; it is perhaps better to see it as the first of many under the stewardship of Antonio Conte. Congratulations to Conte, the squad, the club and all its fans. Let’s hope for a few more memorable campaigns in the not too distant future and a Coppa Italia success next Sunday night.
End of Season Awards:
1) Player of the Season
2) Goal of the Season
3) Game of the Season
Leave your answers below and thanks for all your comments throughout the year. For more Serie A and Juventus news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty