It’s been a uniquely frustrating period for Juventus and their fans for the past couple of decades – and in particular the past five years – as for all their domination on the domestic front, they have failed to land a prized European trophy.
So, the question is, can Juve build on their sixth consecutive Serie A titles and finally bring the Champions League to Turin for the first time since 1996?
The near misses in 2015 and 2017 will only add to Juve’s desire to get European glory, while the manner of their victory over a very good Tottenham Hotspur side in the last 16 shows that you should never underestimate the Italian giants.
Indeed, probably the most impressive part of Juventus’ sustained success, is the amount of what seemed important personnel who left the club during the period: Antonio Conte, Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba have all played crucial roles and then left, but the loss on no single individual has derailed Juve.
Is This the Best Juventus Team of the Decade?
While Juve have lost plenty of important players and managers in recent years, there is probably a no better example in world football that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
So, while some top players have left Juve, it could be argued that this is the best Juve team yet, largely due to an interesting combination of both the experience of winning and losing at critical moments. The Juve team knows better than anyone exactly what it takes to win a title, and their passion has probably never been stronger with the pain of the Champions League final defeats still fresh in the memory.
Surprisingly though, despite how close Juve have come in recent years and their impressive defeat over Spurs, Mr Green odds and betting markets still place Juventus as one of the biggest outsiders for the Champions League this year.
Another key factor to consider for Juve winning Europe’s biggest competition this year especially, is that Gigi Buffon confirmed that if Juventus were to win the Champions League, he would stay on for one more season in order to compete in the Club World Cup and – hopefully – complete his set.
Indeed, just as Italy missing out on the World Cup this year was tragic for Buffon, so to would be the failure to land the most prized award in club football for one of the greatest goalkeepers of all-time.
The 40-year-old has enjoyed a spectacular career, earning 175 caps for Italy, 10 scudettos, four Coppa Italias, a UEFA Cup and of course the World Cup in 2006. The Champions League though would be the real icing on the cake for Gigi, especially following the World Cup disappointment.
The Last Chance for an Aging Team?
Although it has been an allegation long aimed at Juventus, the team has an incredibly high average age, with many important players into their 30s (and 40s in Buffon’s case). Indeed, in their recent win over Spurs, Juve’s youngest player (by some distance) was 24-year-old Paulo Dybala, while just three other players under the age of 30 started for them that day, with their average age over 30 – a world apart from Spurs’ average age of just 25 – of whom only two were over 30.
One of the greatest problems of an aging team is that it becomes increasingly hard to generate funds by selling players in order to bring new ones in and redevelop the squad. While Dybala may well leave in the next couple of years – and go for a big fee should he do so – it’s hard to see where Juventus may be able to cash in on in order to rebuild their squad. Nevertheless, Juve has been ruled out before, and to do so again is nothing short of foolish.
What you certainly would say though, is that this year is surely the best chance Juventus will have of winning the Champions League with this group of players, so don’t be surprised to see them in the final in Kiev come May, and maybe even lifting the trophy.