By Kris Voakes, Goal.com
The Old Lady is back. Six years after the shame, the conjecture, the recriminations and the introspection, Juventus is champion of Italy once more. And boy, how it's taken Serie A by storm in achieving that.
Everybody knew that this day would come, but it was almost as though the Bianconeri had to make an extra statement in making it happen, and tonight’s victory over Cagliari not only returns the Scudetto to Turin, but it also leaves Juve within 90 minutes of a unique 38-game unbeaten season. This isn’t just a title win, it’s a declaration.
Not only has Juve yet to be bowed, it have gone about destroying most of the peninsula’s top-flight clubs. While the scorelines have not always reflected the club's dominance, it has been about as impressive as any Italian side in living memory.
Their high pressing game and their near-faultless midfield base to an almost impregnable defence, the Bianconeri have had pretty much every facet covered. Even their poor conversion rate has been practically forgotten in the last 10 matches, with 26 goals helping them negotiate the potentially difficult run in like a batter smashing home run after home run in a World Series decider.
Had their shooting boots fit so snuggly during the first three quarters of the season, the title could have been won two months ago, such has been their clear superiority over the opposition. But it is not only a glorious achievement, to the majority of calcio fans it is also a great surprise.
At the beginning of the season the main question mark hanging over Juve was in relation to its readiness to compete for a Champions League spot. With back-to-back seventh place finishes and the reduction of Italian representation for the main event in 2012-13, there were doubts among many as to whether the Bianconeri had what it would take to make a four-place leap in the standings.
But from early in the piece, it was clear that Antonio Conte’s outfit was a very different animal to the one steered off course by Ciro Ferrara, Alberto Zaccheroni and Luigi Del Neri over the previous 24 months. Instead of the fractured build-up play, there was unprecedented fluency. Where there had been pressure on their back-line, there was now a switch of emphasis to ensure that the defence was tested as rarely as possible.
This was a whole new Juve, with a new stadium, a new coach and a brand new philosophy defining its new era. And while it struggled to make its superiority count at times, there was never an inability to assert authority.
It may not be the best Juventus ever, with many great versions of the past staking a claim for that crown, but that is not important right now. The fact is that the Bianconeri are back. Champions again, and convincingly so - however much Milan coach Massimilano Allegri argues otherwise, in relation to Sulley Muntari's phantom goal back in February. Rarely has a team’s supremacy been so unquestionable.
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