There I sat, in front of my television early September 2006, wearing my Serie B black and white jersey and thinking to myself that I can’t wait to get back to Serie A. My love for the Bianconeri began back when, as a 10 year old, I watched the Champions league final 1997 loss to Borussia Dortmund. Despite the loss, I had felt greatness in that side that boasted a young Alessandro Del Piero.
Fast forward 10 successful years for club, and in 2006, just as Italy were crowned world champions, "Calciopoli" hit Juventus hard (unrightfully) and the team began a quest (- 7 points), losing star players that made the team a pillar in the world of Football and even drawing 1 - 1 with Rimini in Serie B. Purgatory year, promotion attained, new players, old guards, new spirit, Serie A rebirth? Not at all.
4 seasons back in the Seria A with a team that largely overachieved during its first 2 seasons back with the big boys by finishing 3rd and 2nd respectively. Some pleasant Champions League performances and then came two mediocre, to say the last, campaigns finishing 7th. It was heart-wrenching to watch a team being put together by incompetent directors and managers coming and going and yet unable to understand and cope with the grandeur of a team like Juventus. Until came a man called Antonio Conte.
Known for his “Grinta” (Italian for Grit) as a former captain of Juve, Conte had successful spells coaching Serie B sides, gaining promotion with 2 teams, the last being Siena in the 2010/11 season, before joining Juventus in the summer of 2011. His impact was instantaneous, with a new state of the art stadium that got fans out of their seats in the inaugural match against Notts County, and alongside some mastermind signings of the likes of Arturo Vidal, Stephan Lichsteiner, Mirko Vucinic and of course the “aging, crippled, not half the player he used to be”, Andrea Pirlo.
The start of the season began with a bang with a 4 - 1 against Parma (a team Juve failed to beat twice in the previous campaign), with Pirlo’s imprint felt directly, Vidal aggressiveness, a water tight back 4, a coherent midfield and a versatile front line - all forming the basis of what was to come during the entire season. Everyone ticked like a clock around Pirlo in a change of mentality enforced by Conte, who favored an attacking aggressive style of play with players covering every inch of the pitch, slickly passing the ball, retaining possession and creating lots of scoring chances. And the rest is, as they say, history.
Juventus have been unbeaten this season and were crowned Serie A Champions Sunday 6th May 2012, with one game left, to reap the fruits of some hard labor and work both on and off the field. The mentality has changed, you feel that Juventus are once again a monumental team, ready for European football, hungry for more titles. Don’t believe me? Stats don’t lie. Forza Juve, Campioni d’Italia! 30 scudetti!
By Philip Yaacoub