With 2016 coming to a close, I reviewed a truly unforgettable year for Juventus which included a 26 game unbeaten run, a record-breaking 974 minutes for the captain and a 5th successive title in a row.

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Best XI

(3-5-2) Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Khedira, Marchisio, Pjanic, Alex Sandro; Higuain, Dybala

At 38, Buffon is still proving everyone wrong – The performance against Lyon this year was an absolute masterclass, reminding everyone just why Gigio is still the best keeper in the world. The defence writes itself: the ‘BBC’ has been unbreakable all year long. Andrea Barzagli is the most dependable CB in our team and a criminally underrated defender on the whole, while Leonardo Bonucci has really come into his own over the last 3 seasons as a ball-playing central defender with a superb passing range. Giorgio Chiellini has returned to his best in the last few months, and despite having struggled with injuries on-and-off for the last 4 years, he’s still a world-class defender on his day. Stephan Lichtsteiner has dropped off in a big-way since the summer, which could be down to the arrival of Dani Alves, however he played an important part in Juve’s unbeaten streak at the start of the year and he works well in this formation. Left-back Alex Sandro has been a revelation – He made a bright start to his Juve career, especially with his deliveries into the box  but his defensive game has improved as well as the year has gone on – I think he’s been one of our best individual players in 2016. Sami Khedira has had a solid year, contributing goals and assists while Claudio Marchisio is arguably our most important midfielder, keeping the side ticking over and shielding the back line. The marked change in our midfield performances in recent months has largely been down to his return from a long-term injury. I would have included Paul Pogba in the team but for Miralem Pjanic coming into his own in the last month. He’s still not at his very best but he’s contributed 6 goals and 6 assists and is starting to play with more freedom – plenty more to come from him. Up front, Paulo Dybala is playing a different role, dropping deep, switching flanks and playing in wide positions, creating more space for his strike partner, while Gonzalo Higuain has picked up where he left off last season; 13 goals and counting and regularly showing us what we’ve lacked for a while – A clinical goalscorer.


Best Juventus Player

A strong case could be made for any of our starting XI but for me it’d be a close call between Bonucci and Dybala with La Joya just edging it. After the defeat against Sassuolo, he spoke with real maturity about what it means to be at Juventus and what’s required from the players – Sure enough, we went on a unbeaten streak of 26 games, winning 25 of them. It was in many of those matches that Dybala scored the vital goals or provided the assists for Mandzukic …or simply dragged us over the finish line, much as Carlos Tevez did in his 2 seasons at Juve.  Paulo has really grown as a player in such a short space of time and he showed maturity beyond his years in accepting a new role this season, playing with more freedom but perhaps not getting as many goal scoring chances for himself. Instead, he’s working hard for the players around him without getting the glory.


Best Moment

Lifting title number 5 after the horrendous start that we had to the season was a minor miracle. A lot of people, including some Juventus supporters, had written the team off by October 2015. To see our unbeaten run in Serie A stretch from November 2015 to May 2016 while beating almost every side in the league was an incredible thing to behold. There was simply no stopping Juve in 2016 – We beat Roma, Napoli, Inter, Milan and Torino on the way to the title, and did so with a unwavering belief and spirit. The team really came together, much as they did in our unbeaten season under Conte a few years back, and this translated to strong displays on the pitch and an unwavering desire to prove everyone wrong: a 26 game unbeaten run winning 25 games in total. Winning the title and equaling the all-time record for consecutive titles won was my by far my favourite moment of 2016.


Best Game

It was far from pleasing on the eye, not was it full of goals and action, however, the victory over Napoli was decisive in so many ways. Up until that match, I think the Serie A race still could have gone either way. Heading into the game, Napoli had a strong desire to prove their title credentials and a stalemate didn’t suit either side. It looked almost certain to end in a 0-0 draw until Simone Zaza stepped up to make the difference. The goal came out of nowhere but watching it again, it was so cleverly worked – Zaza took a really intelligent touch, creating space to move away from two defenders behind him…a brief turn and look up to check where the keeper was…a few steps and then he unleashed an unstoppable effort. The euphoria in that moment, the vindication for Allegri and the players….nothing came close. That game changed the course of the championship – It added momentum to our push for Scudetto no.5  and allowed us to continue our unbeaten streak while stopping Napoli in their tracks. They drew two games after that defeat and collapsed against Udinese a few weeks later while Juventus pulled ahead and never looked back. A tense game decided by one moment of brilliance.


Biggest Disappointment

The defeat to Bayern Munich will take some time to get over. We were within 90 seconds of knocking them out, having thoroughly outclassed them all game long, playing quick and concise counter-attacks in the most un-Juve-like fashion. Allegri took a gamble, switched the formation and used a 4-5-1, utilising Juan Cuadrado and Alavaro Morata’s pace to devastating effect…and it worked! …..almost. Morata scored a perfectly valid goal that was given as offside – Had it stood, we would have advanced and who knows what might have happened. Despite learning so much from that game, it will remain raw for some time yet…..



Gigi Buffon – He led us throughout 2016, on and off the pitch. There are countless examples of where he’s single-handedly made a difference to our fortunes, however, It was his speech to the players after the defeat against Sassuolo that helped change the course of our season and put Juve back in the title race after our worst start to a season in decades. Granted, it took place in 2015, but we reaped the rewards in May. If it weren’t for moments like that, along with his heartfelt plea to the Curva to get behind the team, we may not have enjoyed the successes that we did this year.  As if that weren’t reason enough to love the man, he broke the Serie A record for clean sheets, going 974 minutes without conceding a goal. A remarkable achievement considering his age, but the thing about Buffon is that he seems to only get better with age…



It may come across as bitter or resentful, but for me, Paul Pogba is the biggest villain of 2016. There was nothing wrong with him leaving Juventus, but the manner of his departure was farcical and he left with little credibility. He had spoken of returning to pre-season training with Juventus after Euro 2016, but in truth, he had organised his move to Manchester United some time before it was announced and completed. The whole thing felt cheap and underhand and it was conducted with no class whatsoever. While I could understand him wanting to return to a club that he obviously felt a lot of affection for, I wish he had been more respectful of the fans that had supported him through one of his worst seasons at the club (He only turned things around towards the end of the campaign). I’m glad to see the back of him and grateful that we managed to secure such a massive profit on a player that cost next to nothing.