Saturday March 10 2018
Juve's toughest Treble test

While Juventus can aim for the Treble, Napoli ensure Max Allegri cannot take his eye off the Serie A ball first, writes Richard Thomas.

Wednesday night’s Champions League win over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley kept Juventus’ dreams of winning European football’s premier club competition for a third time alive. With Max Allegri’s team having failed to take an aggregate lead into the second leg in London, it is fair to say they began the evening in the unfamiliar position of slight underdogs to progress to the last eight.

And despite not playing particularly well on the night, the Old Lady showed admirable resilience and togetherness against a high-quality Spurs outfit – before striking twice when it really mattered and defending stoutly for the remainder of the contest. As Giorgio Chiellini pointed out post-match, experience ultimately won through.

Following their narrow escape from what was easily the most closely-fought completed tie of the Round of 16 so far, the Serie A champions now have some breathing space in their quest for club football’s biggest trophy. They can put their feet up, take in the four remaining second legs over the course of the next week, before looking forward to next Friday’s quarter-final draw.

Juve have been here before. For the third time in four seasons under Allegri, the Bianconeri have reached the middle of March with their aspirations on all three fronts still intact. With 12 games of the Serie A season remaining, they are favourites to secure an historic seventh straight Scudetto ahead of Napoli, while a Coppa Italia final date with Milan is also pencilled in for early May.

Remarkably, Allegri still boasts a 100 per cent haul of major domestic trophies since arriving as Old Lady boss in the summer of 2014 – having won every Scudetto and Coppa Italia available during his tenure so far. It is an incredible record for the Tuscan tactician, who has made a complete mockery of initial scepticism of his appointment in the subsequent three-and-a-half years. Although anything can happen in a one-off final, the smart money would be on Juve wrapping up a fourth consecutive domestic double.

However, as has been the case ever since Antonio Conte restored Juve as calcio’s dominant force, what Bianconeri followers crave more than anything else is to be crowned European champions for a third time. And on paper at least, it appears a far tougher ask than at any point in Allegri’s reign for the Turin club to finally go one step further and complete a Treble after two near misses.

Holders Real Madrid appear to have a vice-like grip on the trophy they have won 12 times in total and three times in the last four years – including last season’s final against the Old Lady. Barcelona, if they can progress against Chelsea, and Bayern Munich will also present formidable obstacles to Juve’s hopes, but it is the renewed strength of the English clubs which means the playing field is far more fraught with dangerous opponents than in recent years gone by. Spurs, the side who pushed Juve so close on Wednesday, are only fourth in the Premier League, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool all remaining in the competition.

Another significant difference between Juve’s treble hunt this season and those of 2014-15 and 2016-17 could come in the form of a genuine Serie A title race. In years gone by, the Bianconeri have had the Scudetto all but sewn up heading into the closing weeks of the campaign, leaving them free to focus all their efforts on Champions League glory.

This time around, such has been the relentless extent of Napoli’s form that Allegri’s team have had to win their last 10 League matches just to hold the slenderest of advantages as the run-in approaches. Despite last week’s loss to Roma, if Maurizio Sarri’s side continue as they have been, they will force Juve to juggle domestic and European priorities in a way they have never had to before. 

And yet, it would be foolish to write them off. In winning at Wembley, Juventus once more demonstrated their supreme mentality and invaluable ability to emerge victorious even when not at their best. That hunger to win that, by their own admission, was missing in the early part of the season is back and here to stay as the stakes continue to rise.

Though it is against the odds, two Champions League final appearances in the past three years would suggest Allegri is on the right track to finally bring an end to 22 years of hurt in the competition. If anyone can do it, the former Milan Coach can.

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Have your say...
@Rafaels1979 Don’t make me laugh, EPL is a joke, if a team like Burnley are 7th and Leicester only won the league two years ago shows how poor the league is. Says Serie A is a joke due to juve Winning Winning 6 titles on a trot yet says Bundesliga is better who Bayern won the last 5 (now 6) on a spin. You contradict yourself. Only La Liga is a better league. Yep the same Higuain who scored 53 goals in 81 appearances for Juve in all competitions is really an awful player. Sad Troll you are.
on the 14th March, 2018 at 12:43am
@RafaelS1979 EPL is a joke. Only reason they have a good team is Guardiola, and only reason EPL is even up there is money, and don't get me started on the Bundesliga. Serie A is better than both
on the 13th March, 2018 at 11:39pm
Out this summer: Barzagli, Sturaro, Marchisio, Khedira and Sturaro. Either too old or not good enough. Sorry! Modern football is very much about pace. We saw it against Tottenham, who were the better team.
on the 13th March, 2018 at 11:28am
Either 4,3,3 or 4,2,3,1 We need to fast backs and at least two fast players going from midfield to attack.
on the 13th March, 2018 at 11:20am
A new right back and two DYNAMIC muscle men for the midfield. Pace is what is lacking.
on the 13th March, 2018 at 11:19am
ciao amici!
to all of those who said Juve can't or won't win the CL!!!
as far as I know every single team has it's up's and down's!! for Juve it's quiet possible if there would be a good harmony and understanding between players!
we can't deny that losing Bonucci was a huge loss!
but I think higuin and dybala will make up for poor defensive tactics (benatia should not play)!
after all now we are not going to the world cup we have all motivation in the world to win CL!!
on the 13th March, 2018 at 5:05am
Well said Juveman.

Of course a treble is possible, they were 45mins away from doing so last year! But it is extremely unlikely and possibly depend on the CL draws.
on the 12th March, 2018 at 5:16pm
Whatever, MAN!

Marchisio is BACK!

And I'm happy MR. NERVY Pjanic is suspended for the next round of CL.

The Little Prince is simply one of the best Registas and an under rated midfielder. Go! Go! #CM8
on the 12th March, 2018 at 2:04pm
@RafaelS1979 dude if scudetto is so bad how come Juve has made it to 2 of the last 3 finals, and made into the 1/4 finals all of the last 4 years and beaten teams such as dortumnd, real, barca, hotspur and Monaco. grow up. People go on and on about the stupid premier league and there hasn't even been an English team in the semi finals for what 5/6 years now ?!
on the 12th March, 2018 at 11:22am
Even as a Juve supporter i don’t believe Juve will ever win a treble lets get real for a second Juve is an amazing club with great history but one thing has become painfully clear Juve is not capable of winning a treble and honestly neither is any italian side yes Inter won and that was a fluke considering all their rivals in the league were handicapped and inter bought all the great players from their rivals!
on the 12th March, 2018 at 2:32am
Something that I always found interesting (or childish rather) is how often you see comments to an article saying that the author shouldnt write this or that.
Its one thing to disagree, but do so in a respectful way.
We might have different teams in our hearts. But seriously, why are so many supporters behaving like kindergarten kids?
We all have one thing in common at least, love for the sports. It is NOT war, its not a matter of life and death.
Share the love for the sport. Not hate.
on the 11th March, 2018 at 11:12pm
Juventus winning for the last six years shows us how Serie A is bad and can't be compared to the Premier League, La Liga and even the Bundesliga for that matter. Other teams should be ashamed to yield every year to a team who consider that buffoon called Higuain a "elite" international player. Can't people just see that Serie A sucks and real hard.
on the 11th March, 2018 at 7:44pm
Writers of Football Italia.

Stop considering Juventus' treble chances each season.
Juventus has never won a treble before, but always discussing the possibility of winning it, is something that people do with teams who has won it or has won it multiple times.

Like Barcelona and Bayern Munich etc.
on the 11th March, 2018 at 2:15pm
-Bernadeschi, Pjanic n Matuidi too. If Marchisio can come back cause Khedira seems a little slow now n if D.Costa, Higuain n Dybala can keep it up! I would take Juve winning the treble if it meant n Italian team winning the CL again tho. Then next yr if they can get E.Can in MF, Rugani or Caldara playing well consistently n a quick, nimble forward, maybe bring Keane back, maybe 1 or 2 others then I can see Juve having a good crack at the CL. I hope Serie A continues to b more competitive too!
on the 11th March, 2018 at 10:16am
It was an amazing win v Spurs. They got away with it a bit at the end but they always seem to do just enough. Although I don't think that will b enough to win the CL. They could have scored more if they didn't retreat so much. After saying that u could argue that Allegri has overachieved in reaching 2 finals in 3 yrs. They can go far in the CL cause they do have the know how n seem to improve as the season goes on but they need everything to fall into place. Rugani n De Siglio need to step up-
on the 11th March, 2018 at 10:01am
I can't understand how somebody could complain from Allegri? The guy won 3 domestic doubles and for 3 years he never lost a game in the two-leg stage in CL although we played against Barca, Real, Bayern and very strong Monaco team (against Bayern both games finished 2-2 in 90 min). And every year he loses somebody from his starting 11. Add to the squad today Vidal, Pogba, Bonucchi, Morata, Dani Alves (Tevez for one more season). That would have been a squad to dominate for years.
on the 11th March, 2018 at 8:45am
LOL Treble?

on the 11th March, 2018 at 7:06am
We won't win the CL unless we make a tactical overhaul. And I doubt that Allegri is the man.

I'm sick of seeing us retreat and fall back when we have a slim lead. Every single time.

We will eventually win it, but not this year.
on the 11th March, 2018 at 5:07am
Calma #Finoallafine
on the 11th March, 2018 at 3:21am
Treble? Keep dreaming. The useless Serie A and Coppa italia yes for sure. The CL its a different story. With this midfield we're not getting past the top teams. About time we sign a world class midfielder, maybe we get Pogba back, and Can that would be an upgrade, maybe they could help out Pjanic.
on the 11th March, 2018 at 1:59am
@Riggs yes Simeone not for us. What baffles me is even with virtually the same personnel since beating Barca 3-0 which showcased Allegri's game management skills epitomised by Pjanic's work, we seem to instinctively and collectively retreat into our own box after taking a lead. The tactical post-Spurs game analysis on BWRAO blog is amazing. Allegri ought to play right players in their positions. A return to 4-4-2 is an interesting solution
on the 10th March, 2018 at 10:38pm
@Pinturicchio... so you want to replace Allegri with Simeone? Someone who won less than Allegri?

Zidane has had a stacked team at Real Madrid. You think having him at Juve will help much? Not sure if I agree, not saying Allegri is amazing, but it's not as easy as you think.
There needs to be midfield overhaul as well
on the 10th March, 2018 at 9:30pm
Even though I am a diehard Juventus fan, there is no way we can win the Treble this year... In fact, the whole winning the CL itself, irrespective of the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia, is pretty much impossible with Allegri.

He is so poor in Europe, so reactive of a coach than a proactive one. He doesn't have that killer instinct to win a knockout tournament, really.

Allegri is winning league doubles every year, but remember why Capello was hired when Lippi left ?? To win the CL... What did he do in 2 years ?? QFs in both years, Scudetti in both years.

We need to hire either Simeone or hope Zidane will coach us, if we Juventini ever wish to see another CL crown.
on the 10th March, 2018 at 7:34pm
iam starting to think that old classical 4-4-2 may be juve best formation. lets be honest in Europe khedira is past his best. pjanic on big games blow hot and cold. right now the strength of juve is in the wingers and strikers. they need to utilize them. dybala on the wing is pointless. it would b like how Bayern played under henykes and dismantle real n barca.
on the 10th March, 2018 at 5:10pm
Let's be realistic. They can't win the CL unless some miracle happens like in 2012.

Leaving this aside though, I think the close race in the league is an advantage. Bayern always secure the league around this time and then fail in the semis. PSG too. The Spanish teams though? They are fighting for the league till the last day.

Well, obviously the have more quality but it sure helps them to remain concentrated and not see every matchday from March till the end as a friendly.
on the 10th March, 2018 at 3:30pm

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