Massimiliano Allegri can complete a journey this season which commenced under predecessor Antonio Conte. When the former captain left Juventus in July 2014, he did so believing he had achieved all he could at Vinovo. Allegri arrived to continue down the path of success.
Conte’s three consecutive Scudetti represented an impressive achievement. It was something he and the club were eyeing from the moment the second championship was secured. President Andrea Agnelli called the three-peat a “new great motivation”. In doing so, the Lecce native led the Old Lady to a first hat-trick since 1933.
Of all the great Juventus sides in the intermediary years – those of the ‘Magical Trio’, or the ones led by Giovanni Trapattoni and Marcello Lippi – none could reel in a third consecutive crown. Conte did. And after Allegri added the fourth, Juve are now chasing an 80-year-old club record.
Only three teams in calcio history have achieved the quintet. Juve’s 1930s vintage were the first. Il Grande Torino roused post-World War II Italy with their breathtaking football, before tragedy struck. Most recently Inter took out five on the trot, although the first Scudetto was controversially awarded in the post-Calciopoli shake-up.
The team dubbed the Quinquennio d’oro laid the foundation for Juventus as we know it today. Less than a decade after coming under Agnelli ownership – Edoardo purchased the club in 1923 – the team became the first superpower of the newly united national league. At their peak, Carlo Carcano’s team won the 1933 championship by eight points. A year later Bianconeri players formed the basis of Vittorio Pozzo’s World Cup winning squad. The Azzurri were referred to as ‘Nazio-Juve’ as nine squad members enjoyed international success. The untimely death of Edoardo Agnelli shortly after the fifth Scudetto was claimed in 1935 signalled the end of an era.
Eighty years later, the Bianconeri can emulate that golden team. Allegri has already declared Scudetto No 5 the main ambition this term, although there are doubts surrounding the Turin club. Those pertain to the three big-name departures – Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal.
Not that Juventus were left reeling. Signing Sami Khedira and Mario Mandzukic ensures short-term gain, while the additions of Paulo Dybala, Daniele Rugani and Simone Zaza point to long-term planning. The evolution of the squad means they remain a strong unit. “Others have arrived with different characteristics,” Gianluigi Buffon stated on Wednesday, “but I feel with the same quality, plus they are younger.”
There could well be further signings before the transfer window is shut, with defender Alex Sandro undergoing his medical earlier today and a midfielder potentially on the way. That was confirmed by director general Giuseppe Marotta on Wednesday.
No doubt there’s a new feel about Juventus, but the spine of the team is intact. That’s the spine which has led them to domination. The Bianconeri have preserved their menacing edge. Despite losing the regularity of Tevez’s goals, the attacking firepower is impressive and depth strong.
Juventus claimed the first trophy of the season after triumphing over Lazio in the Italian Super Cup, but the suggestion is this will be the closest fought championship since the Old Lady returned to the top of the mountain in 2012.
Roma and Inter are expected to be Juve’s closest challengers. Then there’s Napoli, Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina to consider – all of whom will be seeking European places. The field has considerably strengthened.
But as with Juventus, these clubs have undergone summer reshuffles. The Giallorossi and Milan pair welcome a multitude of new faces, with the Rossoneri plus Napoli and Fiorentina also led by new tacticians. The likes of new Roma striker Edin Dzeko and Inter’s midfield pitbull Geoffrey Kondogbia represent significant purchases, but these clubs have to reduce a gap which has stood at 17 points in each of the last two seasons. Allegri thinks it will be close: “There are many rivals and I think this term it will take fewer points to secure top spot.”
Juve’s 1930s counterparts won three of their first four Scudetti by a margin of four points – in the days of two per win – but were pushed to a closer two-point triumph in 1935. History may well repeat as this campaign is set to be more keenly contested than in previous seasons, but Juventus are still the team to beat.