Monday May 5 2014
Once, Twice, Three Times The Old Lady

A surprising result in Sicily allowed dominant Juventus to celebrate a third Scudetto in a row without kicking a ball. Giancarlo Rinaldi hails the champions and examines sorry events at the Coppa Italia.

We had, of course, been expecting her for some time. But when Juve's third Scudetto in a row finally showed up, the manner of her arrival was something of a surprise and an anti-climax. It all felt a little bit like a long-awaited bride turning up for her wedding day and being sneaked in through the back door rather than walking down the aisle.

Few of us had anticipated Serie A's best defence, Roma, succumbing to its worst attack, Catania, in such spectacular fashion. A 4-1 thumping meant the Bianconeri could celebrate their 30th title in the official records without having to take to the pitch. Quite rightly, of course, it did nothing to diminish the joy being felt by followers of the Turin giants around the country.

Indeed, the Giallorossi's demise felt a bit like a cyclist finally cracking under the intense pressure of a rival on some brutal mountain climb. Rudi Garcia's side deserve immense credit for keeping on Juve's wheel for quite so long. Ultimately, however, the tempo being tapped out by Antonio Conte's side was too hot for anyone to live with.

The real Roma, the one we've admired all season, did not show up in Sicily. Conversely, Catania finally produced a performance worthy of their previous campaigns in the top flight. It might yet be just enough to allow them to survive in Serie A.

But the first, direct outcome was to hand a thoroughly deserved Scudetto to Juventus. La Vecchia Signora has been absolutely imperious in Italy once again. Even their enormously-demanding Coach can have had little to complain about over this three Michelin star display.

The numbers the Bianconeri have stacked up tell you all you need to know. They've been all but invincible and have never even been held to a draw in home matches. If you thought it was impossible for their grip on the Italian game to get any tighter, you were wrong.

Their defence was rock solid, the midfield enhanced by a maturing Paul Pogba and the devastating Arturo Vidal and their attack finally found two premier protagonists in Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente. That Roma kept close for so long is to their eternal credit. It hopefully bodes well for closer competition in years to come.

At least the title celebrations put minds back on sporting matters in a weekend which started in depressingly familiar fashion at the Coppa Italia final in Rome. The game, convincingly won by Napoli against Fiorentina, was preceded by a sorry tale. The shooting of a follower of the Partenopei - reportedly by a known Roma Ultra - in the build-up to the match led to a delay of the kick-off. Only once supporters had been assured he was still alive were proceedings allowed to get under way. What had started as a celebration of Calcio ended up feeling like the administration of its last rites. Some things, it seems, will never change.

The weekend's other key action was the low calorie Derby della Madonnina. Having gorged themselves for years on football glory, duelling for a Europa League spot feels like nibbling on a lettuce leaf for Milan and Inter. It did not produce the kind of action to have anyone licking their lips.

Fear seemed to rule the roost as both sides were more worried about the fallout of defeat rather than going out to seize success. On this evidence, the Milanese giants will have work to do if they hope to mount a serious challenge to Juve’s dominance next season. It would be foolish to rule out such a revival from two of Italy’s biggest teams, but neither of them currently has a squad which should have Coach Conte losing much sleep at present.

In the end, it took a goal from the appropriately workmanlike Nigel de Jong to separate the sides. He soared to meet a cracking Mario Balotelli cross to break the most dour of deadlocks. Inter were so bereft of ideas that they never looked like getting back into the game and Walter Mazzarri crowned a miserable night for fans of the Nerazzurri by leaving club hero Javier Zanetti languishing on the bench for his last Milan derby. For the Rossoneri, on the other hand, the result keeps alive hopes of clambering into continental football once again.

Elsewhere, Torino marked the 65th anniversary of the Superga disaster which wiped out their finest side by stepping closer to Europe. A Gennaro Sardo own goal was enough to see them home against Chievo. With close rivals Parma seeing off Samp thanks to goals from Antonio Cassano and Ezequiel Schelotto it sets up a delicious clash between the two sides in Turin next week.

The rest of the action was of lower table significance. Bologna eked out a point against Genoa while a goal feast in the Friuli made Livorno's plight more forlorn as they slumped to 5-3 defeat against Udinese. It saw the Tuscan side fall behind Catania to the bottom of the table. Some nervous encounters are in store in the next fortnight for many sides - but Juventus can already bask in the glory of yet another title.

Have your say...
to all hater's of juve, please grow up and stop whining........ seria a is at an impass right now but it does not mean it's dead. FIGC has to role up their sleeves and figure out with the clubs what course of action to take in order to bring back the glory days of our calcio. IN the meatime lets stop pointing fingers at one another blaming EACH OTHER like 5 year olds for cryin out "LOUD" AND CELEBRATE JUVEEEEEEEEEEE......
on the 10th May, 2014 at 3:40am
@malinis heir give credit to where its due {juventus}. stop complaining and start celebrating.Forza JUVE FINO ALA FINE E SIAMO NOI.....
on the 10th May, 2014 at 3:25am
@ Sam De Martino I think that's the case last season but Milan pushed them pretty close the season before with Muntari's Ghost Goal or whatever its called and Roma have really had a go this season. Having said that it will not look good if Juve hit 100 points this season when they didn't do so well in Europe. In fairness to them in the CL group there some ridiculous moments from missing endless chances against Copenhagen to that (for a non-Juve fan) hilarious moment in Galatasaray!
on the 7th May, 2014 at 12:54pm
Juve have had no competition in serie A for 2 of the last 3 seasons. Winning 3 serie A in a row isn't an schievement when there is no real completion. Conte has done nothing in Europe, the Europa league was his chance and they blew it against an average Benfica team. Our league is the joke of Europe, 5th in the co effieciency now and no final since 2010. Its beyond dire, lots of talk but nothing changes. Depressing.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 8:12am
@Maldini's Heir, it wasn't at you, at leats when you write something you seem to be quite objective, I am too, Juve were/have been quite poor in Europe last three seasons and it has been a shame for the Italian game, as they should be beating benfica, and even when teams like Swansea are pushing Italian teams close its a bad sign, I was commenting on the inter fans attitude, they ignore the fact that inter escape punishment despite evidence linking them to match fixing
on the 7th May, 2014 at 6:04am
I'm so tired of people trashing Conte and the 3-5-2 formation. With the set of players he has, this is the formation he has to play. Their is no wingers. With Pepe out for most of the season, and the lost of Giacharini it was forced to play that way. Even when they played 4-3-3 against Real he had Marchico out of position. If Nani is coming and another winger then you can move till a 4-3-3 but until then you play with the best formation for your group of players.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 10:01pm
@ Interista The difference is other fans don't look for excuses. Inter spent a shed load in the 90s and had nothing to show for it except a few UEFA Cups. Inter also didn't come out of calciopoli too clean either. Personally I set my expectations for Milan against the bench mark of 32 titles not 30. I would be ashamed to have been awarded a Scudetto when my team finished 15 and 12 points behind Juve and Milan respectively. Now that's embarrassing.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 7:53pm
@ Adam I am not defending Milan (who at least got to the second round). Milan were also poor. What's wrong with the statement "With success comes greater responsibility."? I'm not sure Conte would disagree with that statement....
on the 6th May, 2014 at 4:36pm
@Maldini's Heir, you do realize Juve hurt Milan more than Inter by fixing matches, right? Its amazing how some idiot Milan "fans" don't even know history and have gone behind the match fixers that hurt their team the most, instead of behind the team that brought the match fixing to light. Well, actually I understand why, Milan has been convicted of match fixing too. Birds of a feather stick together :)
on the 6th May, 2014 at 4:27pm
If any Italian teams want to be successful in Europe, they need to get rid of these stubborn, inflexible managers like Conte and Mazzarri that stick to archaic tactics that only work in Italy. Napoli have set themselves up for the future by employing Rafa. The fact napoli did so well in such a tough group and only losing out by a 1-goal goal difference shows they're on the right path. Italy needs more world class managers like Rafa.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 4:24pm
@ Anonymous I am not sure if that was directed at me but you seemed to quote what I said. Clearly Serie A is in decline and I've asked for a blog on it. I'm not sure its unfair to set higher expectations for Juve than qualifying from their group. They let themselves down this season and Serie A. I don't think anyone can dispute that. On the flip side that underachievement might keep Conte in Italy (not so good for the other clubs)
on the 6th May, 2014 at 3:43pm
Maldini's Heir.....Milan weren't that great in Europe in fact I bet they would have gone out to Lyon had they been in Juve position.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 3:23pm
So your measure of success if making it out of the group stage of CL, thats it? Yet again Juve can not shoulder the entire responsability of the italian success in Italy, the fact they are 'run away leaders' simply highlight the decline of the italian game unfortunately, nothing else, I hope inter next season can win the europa league, I turly do, bring some fo the glory back to the italian game
on the 6th May, 2014 at 3:00pm
Conte and Juve have been immense in the league - no doubt. But, now its time for the team to show the same form in Europe. Juve must start building a squad capable of mounting a real challenge in Europe. I am sure with the right blend of players - and - playing the kind of fearless football they play in the league, they can have a good run in Europe. Hopefully, this should also attract the kind of players Serie A is used to seeing.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 2:15pm
You say Inter hasn't been successful in Europe in the last decade? I don't recall us getting knocked out of the CL group stage in a relatively weak group while being champions of Italy LOL. The fact is thanks to Rubentus Serie A is now a laughingstock, and even the Portuguese league surpassed us in the UEFA rankings (for a season at least). Rube can keep paying off referees in the league and "win" the Scudetto, but they're not able to do that in Europe that's why they're a failure.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 12:53pm
Now can we have a blog about the further demise of Serie A? Now 5th in the coefficients and Juve's performances in Europe have done nothing to help. I'm not blaming Juve since the others let Serie A down too. Its just when the runaway champions can't get out of their CL group it reflects badly on the rest. With success comes greater responsibility.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 12:51pm
Well done Juve. Number 32* That's now 14 ahead of my beloved Milan. Its very depressing. Hopefully Milan can come back one day (I doubt next year) and make up that number.

* Accepted by everyone except Inter fans. This is the number Milan should be looking to overtake. This is the number that counts.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 12:48pm
Well done Juventus fully deserved the title. People bring up Calciopoli but lets not forget Milan were also found guilty if im not wrong and deducted points, not to mention Inter got off with it they bugged players phones you cant tell me Moratti wasn't involved Inter just hide behind it to take off heat for their woeful transfer campaigns which lead them to nothing.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 7:55am
But again, NO teams did well in Europe (Napoli deserved much better than what they got), no Juve fans are claiming Juve were good in Europe, why imply that they are, Italy are behind Portugal now in the standings after falling behind Germany a few years back, Italy, not Juventus are not performing in Europe, it needs to change next season, and Roma, Napoli are exciting teams that can certainly help do that and Fiorentina too
on the 5th May, 2014 at 8:12pm
Do you think people will remember Juve crashing out of the first stage? or not making the final? Do you think they will really care to make note of that, or is that just you!! cause you have nothing to shout about from inter this season and you are desperate to lash out in your anger, and what hurts more is that Juve won the league, you could have coped with somebody else, even AC, but Juve is just to much for you bear.
on the 5th May, 2014 at 7:53pm
But guess what? Conte CRIED ALL THE WAY AFTER ONE KNOCK OUT PHASE WHERE BENFICA WAS THE BEST TEAM, as well as some other players. Damn, they not only are ashamed in the field with the results, but also off the field with words! Some humility would be more than great at Juventus. What a guy is Conte, always blaming somebody else, when his main striker has 1 goal in 5 years in Europe!
on the 5th May, 2014 at 7:50pm
Congrats for the title, largely deserved. But that does not make up the fact that this season was a total disaster in the continental front, where Juventus were knocked-out by an average at best side like Galatasaray. And dont start with the argument of the snow, since Juventus should have qualified before that match, yeah sure, Copenhague was a tough team at the level of Madrid (?)And what happened with Benfica was the last nail in the coffin for this european season!
on the 5th May, 2014 at 7:49pm
I don't recall inter being amazing in Europe ver the last decade, I know they won CL, but the nly team in recent history to do really well in Europe has been AC, I find inter as a club and their fans to be pretty sore losers, and had most of their success after Juve, Milan etc had been punished for calcopoli, and inter had escape being taken to task for their involvement, if other temas were doing it, they are all as guilty, Juve made an example more than the rest, but are better for it
on the 5th May, 2014 at 7:45pm
Oh I wasn't bragging about Juve's performances in Europe, they didn't even look like scoring against benfica the other night, I am simply saying they can't be blamed for shaming the itlaian league, city went out first round after being champs, they didn't do great this year either, neither did man united this year, there is a real bitterness against Juve, I hope roma, Napoli, juve and all the others do good in Europe next year, I openly admit Juve have not been great in Europ
on the 5th May, 2014 at 7:41pm

Congrats on the title again, but I would be a bit careful on bragging about "the only Italian team to get to the semi finals of a European tournament"

It's not really that big of a thing and in all fairness, I expect a lot more from juve then their rubbish results in Europe.
on the 5th May, 2014 at 7:02pm
I get it Ruba means steal in itlaian, and Juve apparently stole championships, I see, very clever,maybe subdolointer, gelosainter
on the 5th May, 2014 at 6:03pm
what is rubentus? is that some kind of play on words, is it supposed to be rubbish? its weak at best, how long did you spend working on that?
on the 5th May, 2014 at 5:55pm
32, 33 whatever its wrong it's 30 and you're lucky to have them as most of Italy (hen I was living there then) knows Juventus were at it in the 70's and 80's talking to referees. Unfortunately that far back cannot be proven but fortunately they got caught eventually. Cheats and proven in court. Or do Rubentus fans think there was no court case?
on the 5th May, 2014 at 5:18pm
The fact is it has always been the Milanese clubs giving a good image of Serie A to the world, Milan more so in the past and Inter more so recently. Juventus has done nothing but tarnish the image of Italian football. Nobody around the world will even care that Juventus "won" their 30th league title, they'll remember you for crashing out of the CL group stage and then failing to make the EL final that will be played in your own stadium, and of course making Serie A a laughingstock.
on the 5th May, 2014 at 4:54pm
Yes they are shaming Italian football because they're the champs. Semi-final of the EL when you're running away with the league title is nothing to be proud of. An injury-decimated Inter hanging in 8th place did more for the image of Serie A last year when we came back 3-0 down to beat Tottenham 4-1 in extra time and only bowing out on goal difference in the EL quarter final. Its an embarrassment to get knocked out of the group stage of CL when you are champion of Italy.
on the 5th May, 2014 at 4:51pm

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