Sunday December 24 2017
Juve sail through Scudetto challenges

On paper it seemed as if this month would be a minefield, but Adam Digby saw the Bianconeri squeeze the life out of their title rivals.

When the Serie A fixture list was revealed back in the summer, Juventus supporters were rightly concerned about their run of games during December. As the 2017-18 campaign got underway, their fears about facing Napoli, Inter and Roma during the final month of the year grew greater still, the three clubs emerging as genuine threats to the Old Lady’s dominance of Italian football.

Indeed, after six years of marching to the title almost unchallenged, the quartet remain in contention. Yet rather than struggling, the Bianconeri have used those head-to-head clashes to underline their superiority, with a narrow 1-0 win over Roma on Saturday evening meaning they had taken seven points from those encounters.

And they did so in perhaps the most painful possible manner. A trip to the cauldron of the Stadio San Paolo came first and, after being showered with vitriol from the same fans who once worshiped him, Gonzalo Higuain bagged the decisive goal. Celebrating with gusto, the Argentinian has since been criticised by former team-mate Lorenzo Insigne for showing just how much he enjoyed netting against the Partenopei.

Yet while Insigne believed Higuain’s celebration was “disrespectful,” for Juve and their big No. 9 it was simply taking care of business. A 0-0 draw with Inter followed, the result failing to show just how poorly the Milanese side fared, and that brought us to the clash with Roma, which Alessandro Florenzi insisted would “tell us a lot” about the quality of the Giallorossi.

Once again, Max Allegri’s men would suck the life out of the game, nullifying the visitors and limiting their chances to score. When they did find a sight of goal, it was ironic that it would be Wojciech Szczesny – who left the Stadio Olimpico to join the Turin giants this summer – who stood tall to deny them.

The Polish goalkeeper made some outstanding stops, his late save when one-on-one with Patrik Schick preserving a lead given to them by another former Roma star. Medhi Benatia needed two attempts to break the deadlock following a first half corner, but just like Higuain, he clearly relished putting his old club to the sword.

Throw in another excellent midfield performance from Miralem Pjanic and the travelling supporters tucked away in the far corner of Juventus Stadium could be forgiven for feeling as if the Ghost of Christmas Past had visited them three times in one night.

Yet much like their fellow Scudetto hopefuls, it will be in the coming weeks when we see Roma’s true colours. Napoli followed up their loss to the Bianconeri by dropping points against Fiorentina, while Inter have lost to both Udinese and Sassuolo since facing the Old Lady, not to mention needing a penalty shoot-out to see off third tier Pordenone in the Coppa Italia.

There remain many questions for Juve of course, not least of which Allegri’s overly conservative team selection. While the result justifies his choices, it is unthinkable that this defensive approach is sustainable or to imagine playing another six months with Federico Bernardeschi, Douglas Costa and Paulo Dybala sat on the sidelines instead of being in the starting XI.

But for now, all that matters is that Juventus secured yet another win. Or, perhaps more importantly, inflicted a defeat on a title rival and turned what looked like a difficult December into a showcase of their superiority.

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Have your say...
JUVENTUS is "unique" in Italy.
It's secret is to concentrate on their professional approach, in other words aim to win Trophies, Scudettos and Cups. Not to mention the numerous records achieved.
Never mind the opposition, Juventus sets the objectives and has with her an immense "winning mentality"
And to top it all Juventus has a squad that is one of the best in the world!
on the 2nd January, 2018 at 10:49pm
Napoli's best run in 2017 was without higuain. and Higuain's form is not as good as what it was at Napoli. So its the team that makes the player better. predictable response to this, but higuain is winning with juve. yeah yeah so is the scrub of a player in sturaro. A water boy is winning more. That means 0 to me. Buying rival star players doesn't translate to winning the CL.. bayern did the same to dortmund in bundesliga and how many CL trophies did they win since?
on the 2nd January, 2018 at 7:55pm
I dont understand this arrogance shown by juve and its fan base. Are we forgetting about losing important games vs real madrid, lazio, group stage loss to barcelona, and being dominated by sampdoria? are we forgetting that Juve's goal is to win the CL and not just the scudetto. parking the bus against napoli and schick's unlucky attempt does not translate to winning the league already and having a good shot at the CL.
on the 2nd January, 2018 at 7:48pm
Buffon is the culprit of being against VAR. And now i see juve fans saying they love it? lol so ridiculous. The reason VAR exists to begin with is because of controversy in the past, lets not kid ourselves here. Thus far VAR gives the illusion that there is no controversy. The reality is Seria A will always have controversy PERIOD.
on the 2nd January, 2018 at 7:40pm
It' a good Serie A, many teams to watch, but the Juventus squad is excellent. Infact I read somewhere that the Juventus bench, in its own right, would get 3rd place in the Scudetto race. Bottom line: if Juventus carries on professionally without even thinking about the opposition, at the end of the season, will harvest at the very least the Scudetto. It makes a lot of sense with the formidable squad that Allegri can pick from..............
on the 31st December, 2017 at 4:13am
It's important to remind oneself that Napoli are the leaders, and deservedly so. What will happen from now till May is going to be very interesting, and the team that is most successful at putting their resources into efficient use will be victorious. Let's not pretend that if Juventus were to win their 7:th successive title it would be down to luck or "circumstances" that are always in favour of Juventus.

Personally I'm enjoying the most interesting season in a long time.

Happy holidays
on the 28th December, 2017 at 8:57pm
Lots of cudos to Napoli, Roma, Inter and Lazio for doing so brilliantly so far this season. As a Juventus fan I'm not making any illusions that winning Serie A this season will be easy. For me, Napoli plays the kind of football that is most pleasing to watch, whilst I also really enjoy watching both Roma and Lazio, Inter much less so.

But all this negative talk about Juventus, implying other teams mental weakness, misuse of VAR, and many other "theories" really has no substance to it.
on the 28th December, 2017 at 8:53pm
@Juve_Forgetful_Domination: Last year they played the same football in CL and we all witnessed it almost worked all the way. Although we might never know what actually happened in the locker before the 2nd half, Real Madrid were lucky to get a draw from first 45 min. A mix of obvious conflict between some players, a lucky deflection for second goal, lack of belief and mental strength to get back in the game and the stupidity of the officials in sending off Cuadrado,was too much to overcome.(2/2)
on the 28th December, 2017 at 2:34am
@Juve_Forgetful_Domination: Juve counter weaker teams?! They have the best attack in the league. They have stopped leaking goals and although I prefer to see more of Bernardeschi, Costa and Dybala, I can't complain about winning clashes at the top of the table. The only game Juve closed shop after scoring was against Napoli which is absolutely understandable...They dominated Inter for pretty much the whole game, and did next to perfect against Roma for 80 minutes or so. (1/2)
on the 28th December, 2017 at 2:27am
@Maldini's Heir I didn't say "also" anywhere. For future reference, match-fixing rules are under Article 6 of the Code of Sporting Justice. Do you want to know which 3 violated it? Facchetti (Inter), Meani (Milan), Spinelli (Livorno) You can see for yourself that Juventus aren't mentioned anywhere. 
on the 27th December, 2017 at 12:56pm
@ Dennis

Haha, yes. I was thinking the same thing after the game.
Was very poetic how events unfolded.
on the 27th December, 2017 at 7:21am
"Juve pushed themselves twice as hard when their competitors are ahead. That's their secret, not because "there is no competition".

@ Alexx, well said.

It's funny,

Juve struggles a bit = Finally! Serie A is competitive again.

Juve wins = Ah well it's a weak league anyway.. back in my grandfather's day, this Juve will be destroyed. Now get off my lawn and let me reminisce about the good old days.
on the 27th December, 2017 at 7:19am
@ micholo Of course the current milan team would get demolished by the newly promoted Juve side. They’ve just been demolished by the newly promoted Verona side. It doesn’t really tell us very much other than the current Milan side are not playing amywheee near their potential.
on the 27th December, 2017 at 6:12am
Juve did? No. So it’s not an answer. The only thing I’m trying to figure out is if this record breaking Juve side is the greatest Italian team in history. Is it? It’s got the record to prove it. So why is this even a question? Because deep down we all know that Serie A is painfully uncompetitive. That’s a problem for other teams and it’s a problem for Juve. Nobody benefits from Serie A turning into France or Scotland. Self-reflection is not a bad thing.
on the 27th December, 2017 at 6:09am
Merry Christmas everyone particularly you snowflake Juve fans. Jeez I was having more of a go at the other teams and the state of Serie A generally. Juve are the model club which ever other team needs to follow if Serie A is to return to its former glory. Yes I know Higuain and Pjanic had release clauses (first mistake) but they could’ve been convinced to go overseas rather than strengthening the number 1 competition. And does the fact Milan and inter also got help from refs change the fact that
on the 27th December, 2017 at 6:04am
@ Anonymous

Hahahahaha... Keep crying!

Juve are back!

Allegri keeps his promise that Juve will be back in middle of December.
on the 26th December, 2017 at 11:49pm
You guys have been saying we will win nothing for years now, and so far as a Juve fan i am loving VAR. We got like 2 VAR's against us, and 5 for so VAR is amazing.

Forza VAR!!
on the 26th December, 2017 at 11:29pm
The way this article is written you would think they were top of Serie A. They aren't. Napoli are and will win Serie A this year. Now VAR has been introduced Rubentus will win nothing! Watch the games and they no longer even surround referees and complain about everything to get what they want. Yes they beat Napoli and Roma 1-0 but they also lost to Lazio and Sampdoria too. Just beating your rivals is not enough and they have it still play away to Roma, Lazio and Inter.
on the 26th December, 2017 at 1:23pm
Irony was written all over the Juve Roma game. Benatia scored, if the stories are true Allegri was close to joining Roma before he was offered the Juve job; Pjanic was possibly the best midfielder on the day; ex Roma goalkeeper Szczęsny saves at point blank from a player that Juve rejected Schick (which is so far turning out to be a great move). Irony is a biatch
on the 25th December, 2017 at 10:57pm
Keep on talking the talk. We keep walking the walk.

Forza Juve! Champions of Italy 2018!
on the 25th December, 2017 at 6:01pm
Honestly, talk of Inter or Roma winning Tricolor was just premature. Both promising teams but not enough to usurp Juve's dominance this season. Napoli has a shot, but they will need to earn it. Bianconeri will not drop many points. We're talking about Juve here.
We'll see what Milan's situation means for the league but... its not looking promising.
on the 24th December, 2017 at 6:06pm
Juve need to do it in the CL, and they are not good enough for that. An elite team is measured in the Champions League. I don't care if Napoli win the league this season.
on the 24th December, 2017 at 5:55pm
I love Allegri's conservarive approach as long as it brings results. Fail to see why we are not happy with 1-0 victories, Juve have been collecting results that way for decades, it's in our blood. Indeed, every challenger went through difficult periods after facing Juve, that's how we suck life out of our rivals. Regardless of how much improvement they have made, Juve will again emerge with the Scudetto in hands next May.
on the 24th December, 2017 at 4:09pm
Milan end Ritiro. What a complete joke.
on the 24th December, 2017 at 2:14pm
the secret of juve's domination is the others give up. they give up at some point alone the way, sooner of later. they dont fight until the end. when others did, juve could not dominate. same happens in other leagues. there is no atl madriad in seria a, as there is no real tough guy like simeone.
on the 24th December, 2017 at 2:13pm
It was predicable what Juve were going to do yesterday.They have beaten Roma 1-0 3/4 meetings. Played exactly the same way.They did the same thing to Napoli.Roma missed two glorious chances.The challengers need to show more determination, hard-work and skill to win SerieA.The other scenario is Juve lose interest, in-fighting or something goes horribly wrong.How likely is that? Not.They are champions by merit, sadly, and it is up to the challengers to overcome their own demons to defeat them.ATB
on the 24th December, 2017 at 2:09pm
You sure would love that version of events. This Juve is actually terrible at counter attacks (surprise for a defensively sound team, eh?) and set piece goals aren't as decisive as you'd wish they are. As for complaining about Higuain, that's too hilarious on its own.

This domination is legendary, and if it's a sign of how weak Italian football has become then so be it. Nobody will forget it, but people will forget you.
on the 24th December, 2017 at 2:05pm
To beat Juve it will require a big effort especially as other teams do not know how to win the league. The other teams have a challenge to become champions without the winning mentality. Roma have finished second 14 times and only won the league 3 times. Inter have gone on a losing run now which could be very costly. Napoli dropped 5 pts this month. Can these teams handle the pressure and win when they have lost the winning feeling, tired or lacking confidence? Grind out results like Juve?
on the 24th December, 2017 at 1:59pm
Juve will need a better manager to dominate in Europe.Allegri has mastered winning the league,which is Juve 1st goal,but is not tactically on the same level of Lippi and other great Juve managers.The league is producing better teams but certainly nobody can challenge them when it comes to focusing on winning and collecting 3pts every week.This is a weak period in Italian football.The Milan clubs are struggling.Inter showing potential.Roma and Napoli good teams but don't win when it counts sadly.
on the 24th December, 2017 at 1:52pm
Juve beat weaker opposition 3or4-0 as they counter attack them even at home.Juve are all about winning not playing a superior game.Thats why they struggle to win in Europe because they play fellow champions and they can only win through grit, determination, hard-work, luck and wearing the opposition down.They can't dominate or win in Europe which says everything.1 Italian team has done this successfully as it very hard to do! Only Milan, Barca and Real have been on this level in Europe!
on the 24th December, 2017 at 1:40pm

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