Dare You Bet Against Juventus ?
When you play at Juventus, all you have to worry about is playing football.
The club’s management tries to cater for every other thing that you may need. From accommodation, to the school registration of your kids and even as far as, and not limited to, your purchase of a TV from their sponsor.
The Italian league and its influence in the European and world football has waned a lot from what it used to be in the 90s. So dominant was it back then, that we had Champions League finals of Juventus v AC Milan, Inter Milan v Lazio, Uefa Cup finals etc.
Only one Italian team stands out today as their sole worthy flagbearers in world football’s most prestigious and lucrative club competition, the Champions League: Juventus Turin.
La Vecchia Signora, The Old Lady, as Juventus is nicknamed, owes this resurgence to current coach Massimiliano Allegri. In charge since 2014 after a successful spell with AC Milan, he has tactically renovated how Juventus approaches football and created a success formula.
Prior to Allegri, Antonio Conté was coach of Juventus. Though Conté was able to dominate in Italy with Juventus at the local league and challenge cup level, he was relatively less effective in dominating in Europe.
Allegri’s tactical knowledge and ability to sternly manage his team is key to why Juventus should be feared by all opponents. On the way to the Champions League final two seasons ago, Allegri’s first year in charge, I was privileged to watch Juventus take on BVB Dortmund in Germany. In 90 minutes of play, for several tactical reasons, he changed the formation of his team three times in the game. This was not only to outplay Dortmund, but also manage the unexpected that happened during the course of the game, like the injury to Paul Pogba, who was then a Juventus player, midway into the first half.
Juventus got to the final of the Champions League in 2015 only to lose to the extremely talented, star-studded Barcelona side in Berlin. But not without having put up a worthy fight and asking questions of the eventual winners – the Lionel Messi, Neymar, Andrés Iniesta and Luis Suarez-led Barcelona side.
Today, two years later, with a completely rebuilt team, Allegri-led Juventus have eliminated Barcelona from the Champions League, playing just two players from the 2015 final defeat.
Gianluigi Buffon and Leonardo Bonucci are the only survivors from the team beaten 3-1 at Berlin’s Olympia stadium, while Barcelona still had 70 per cent of the same line-up.
Juventus is not just a football club, it is an institution, well organised and with one sole objective: winning. The club’s primary objective is to recruit winners both on and off the pitch.
Juventus is one of the sole clubs in cash-strapped Italy to own its own stadium, with every game sold out. It is the only club in Italy that has more fans than the opposition in most stadiums, even when they go away at most times.
It practically acts like a club side that is a national team.
Financially it is as stable as you can get. In the early 90s it was mainly bankrolled by the Agnelli, Fiat Motors, family wealth, but today the new Agnelli generation management has diversified its resources and source of income to allow it to buy even a player like Gonzalo Higuaín for almost a hundred million Euros.
Tactically, recently, Barcelona were rendered impotent in two games, with Messi and Suarez made to look ordinary at times, thanks to the defensive counteracting schemes applied by Juventus.
The semifinals of the Champions League now pitch Juventus against AS Monaco, the surprise but highly talented team of this season’s European competition.
I definitely will not bet against this Juventus side getting to the final in Cardiff in June 2017. Would you?