Thursday February 1 2018
Juventus winning ugly

The Bianconeri aren't great to watch, but Emmet Gates wonders if they actually care.

“Winning is not important, it is the only thing that matters,” we’ve all heard the immortal line before, uttered by Juventus legend Giampero Boniperti. Boniperti’s words, which have been spun by some to suggest a willingness to dabble in the more sinister, darker arts of the game, goes right to the very essence of what The Old Lady are. It’s clichéd beyond belief, but when it pertains to Juventus, it doesn’t make it any less true; they live to win. Style is of little importance.

Juventus are an anomaly in European football; a super heavyweight that’s never had a footballing blueprint, an ethos, or really any inclination to play attractive football. The only constant, the only tangible permanence, is the will to win trophies.

If we take a look at the most successful European sides in the history of the game (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Juventus, Man Utd), most of us can recall an iteration of those teams that were breathtaking to watch. Whether it be the early days of the first Galactico era at Real, Johan Cryuff’s Dream Team of the early ‘90s, United’s swashbuckling treble winning side or Pep Guardiola’s dominant Bayern side.

Try as you might, you’d be hard pressed to recall a Juventus side that scored high marks in the aesthetically pleasing department. It’s just simply not part of the club’s DNA. A case could be argued for certain pockets of time within a Coach’s spell; In the 1994-95 title run in and early 1995-96 under Marcello Lippi; for large parts of Antonio Conte’s first season in 2011/12; Last season when Max Allegri fielded all of his ‘cinque stelle’ in a move to make Juve better in Europe. These however are rare instances, and they were fleeting.

The irony in all this of course is that the Bianconeri have had some of the greatest talents to ever play the game, with a past list of No. 10s that is surpassed only by Barcelona. Yet those players tended to be surrounded by hard working grafters, displaying the much-vaunted grinta that many a Juve manager has demanded from his players. Moments of individual magic would then be left up to a Brady, a Platini or a Baggio.

Countless times, we have seen them secure a title whilst seeing off a title challenger that had a superior style. From Lazio in 1995 to Inter in 1998; in more modern times with Napoli last season. They’ve proved time and again that substance does indeed trump style. Sometimes you get the impression the club actually revel in their role as the functional champions par excellence.

The nadir of this functionality was the nightmare-inducing Fabio Capello era of the mid ‘00s. For two seasons, Capello instructed a side containing creative forces like Pavel Nedved, Alex Del Piero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mauro Camoranesi to essentially suck all joy out of the game by playing the most tediously slow football the Italian game had seen for decades. Capello somehow triumphed over Carlo Ancelotti’s slick and magnificent Milan side, not once but twice. Capello’s mechanical team were torn apart in Europe by Liverpool and Arsenal – two much faster and incisive sides.

Some 8 years after his departure, Antonio Conte felt obliged to channel his inner Capello in 2013-14. In his third and what turned out to be final season, Conte’s restrictive – never mind ridiculously repetitive - patterns of play translated itself into some dire performances.

Chief among them was the Europa league semi final 2nd leg at home to Benfica, needing only a goal to advance to the final on away goals (a final that was also to be played in the Juventus Stadium), the flaws in Conte’s coaching were clear for all to see; his orchestrated patterns failed to pierce a relatively modest Benfica backline and the game ended 0-0. A year later, Max Allegri would take the majority of the same team to within 90 minutes of a treble.

Allegri, by contrast, is much more of a pragmatist and lets his players think for themselves on the pitch. You get the sense that he would like his Juventus to play enterprising football, but has been hamstrung in 3 consecutive summers with key players departing, forcing him to rejig formations and partnerships every season. Yet generally by the business end of the season, he’s figured out his best system – just in time for Juve to open up their trophy cabinet doors once more.

If Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli were to show a steely reserve and bring the title south of Rome for the first time in nearly 30 years, it would be that rare case of the style and substance coming together. Would it change Juve’s philosophical outlook?

History shows the answer would be a resounding no.

Have your say...

Awesome win in Firenze!
0-2 (Bernardeschi and Higuain)

Top, Top, Top performances by Chiellini and Benatia, the flexible 4-3-2-1 truly works well!

on the 10th February, 2018 at 9:15am
So although I personally do agree with the writer in how I perceive Juve's playing style (although I actually enjoy it), I find it strange that everyone seems to have this urge to comment on Juve's playing style.

In any case, I for one would like for Allegri to throw caution to the wind and play a more audacious style of football.

Forza Juve
on the 6th February, 2018 at 9:14pm
Just to be clear, I'm a Juve fan.

I actually do agree with most of what's written in the article, the Benfica game being a case in point. Juve, in my view, plays a unnecessarily cautious style of football. They have a much better squad than any other team in Serie A, Napoli included. What's annoying to me though is that so many people feel the need to comment on Juve's perceived style of play but not on equally defensively aware/adept teams with success in recent years such as Atletico Madrid.
on the 6th February, 2018 at 9:12pm
This article is clueless. Thus just glancing through after the 3rd paragrah.

Firstly, Lippi's Juve were a blueprint for Man utd. Juve has always played technical and tactical football and if you can't see this, your football vision is very limited.

And why would you quote Pep's Bayern side when Jupp Heynckes' side was the team playing more attractive football plus winning a treble.
on the 6th February, 2018 at 8:03am
In truth Juve's 4-3-3 is after all a flexible 4-3-2-1, which better suits the players on the pitch.
MATUIDI has proved to be a totally great signing for Juventus.
on the 5th February, 2018 at 9:37pm
Juventus wins when they are the best team around, and only if they are THE BEST.
It happens very often........... SO WHAT?
I ain't complaining!
on the 5th February, 2018 at 7:41pm
Juve is hated throughout all of Italy because of the simple fact that it is extremely difficult to win the Scudetto with Juventus in the league. The people accusing of cheating and match fixing, by all means, keep complaining about something that happened years and years ago. Juve always finds a way.. Fino alla fine
on the 5th February, 2018 at 6:34pm
Great win by Juventus!
Clear message sent to all our rivals and promising starts by "new boys" Del Sole, Fernandes and Jakupovic!

on the 5th February, 2018 at 1:27am
Seems like we got ourselves a bunch of cheating Juve supporters in here.

Somone, please, for the love of God, give them a nice relegation to Serie B so they can stop cheating!
on the 4th February, 2018 at 10:44pm
Ugly 7-0 win today
on the 4th February, 2018 at 5:55pm
7:0, still ugly, I guess...
on the 4th February, 2018 at 5:16pm
Oh and we're without dybala, Costa and cuadrado
on the 4th February, 2018 at 3:34pm
Another boring display 3-0 in 30 minutes.
on the 4th February, 2018 at 3:32pm
Seems like we got ourselves a young parrot in here.

Somone, please, for the love of God, give him a cracker so he can shut up.
on the 4th February, 2018 at 2:31pm
New Juventus signings FERNANDES & JAKUPOCIC (forward) are making their debut for our Youth side right now.
Jakupovic made the assist for Juve's goal and the match is still been played.
on the 4th February, 2018 at 10:29am
Forza Juve!

Only sour grapes from the "munnezza" saddos............

DEL SOLE scored 2 goals in training and keeps his place amongst the players selected to travel for the match against Sassuolo!
on the 4th February, 2018 at 9:30am
Juventus has been in my heart since I was a young boy growing up in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
I watched and loved those famous black and white colours. The legends of Baggio, Del Piero and now Buffon, Dybala etc.

With all due respect to the other Italian great clubs, none compares.

JUVE Legendary club.
From Afghanistan.
on the 4th February, 2018 at 2:16am
Getting back to Juventus, it looks like they are enjoying cheating in a great season, so let's all hope that Juventus can cheat and buy a record 7th Scudetto in a row.

on the 3rd February, 2018 at 11:26pm
@Dejan10 I am sure that the author had a reason for leaving Milan out but i agree Milan certainly belongs to the worlds greatest European footballing clubs their history is magnificent!!
on the 3rd February, 2018 at 2:09am
Getting back to Juventus, it looks like we are enjoying another great season, so let's all hope that we can win a record 7th Scudetto in a row.

on the 3rd February, 2018 at 2:01am
Leaving AC Milan out of a list of the greatest clubs in European history is like leaving Hendrix out of a list of the greatest ever guitarists.
on the 3rd February, 2018 at 12:50am
Top Juve fan, a CHEATER, like your Club.
In cheating forever we trust!
on the 2nd February, 2018 at 11:23pm
It's not winning if you cheat, it's cheating. Cheating and winning are two different words with two different meanings.

Not surprised I have to explain that to a Juve fan though ahahahaha
on the 2nd February, 2018 at 11:22pm
Top Juve fan, a WINNER, like my Club.
In winning forever we trust!
on the 2nd February, 2018 at 8:49pm
Pino, winning isn't everything. It's the only thing.
on the 2nd February, 2018 at 8:30pm

Haha typical Juve fan - happy that Juve wins even if you have to cheat to do it. Juventus is the same of Italy.
on the 2nd February, 2018 at 7:02pm
It's much better to keep on winning than anything else.
What counts is WINNING.
I know that everybody will agree.
WINNING is the name of the game!
on the 2nd February, 2018 at 5:09pm
Juventus IS winning ugly - by cheating and bribing their way to the scudetto. What an embarrassment for Italy, and all Italians.
on the 2nd February, 2018 at 3:53pm
Nonsense article, to keep winning you need to grind out results occasionally but that shouldn't cloud the judgement. Overall they have played some excellent football under Allegri, Conte and Lippi. The Juve team of the mid 90's were magnificent. Capello was dreadful though.
on the 2nd February, 2018 at 2:30pm
"or Guardiola's dominant Bayern"

Stop hyping Guardiola like every other schmuck around here.
Bayern were dominant and unstoppable under Heynckes.
If you're gonna give an half-assed example of an era then at least get it right.

Like someone mentioned, other than Barca and Madrid, all the big teams play highly tactical, physical and "boring" game.
Although I don't consider that boring.
on the 2nd February, 2018 at 11:29am

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