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If one were to view the rosters for each of Italy’s four World Cup triumphs, one would notice a pattern; the core of the team was comprised of Juventus players. Not only that, but Juventus players made key contributions in each of these championship winning sides, names such as Orsi, Monti, Rossi, Gentile, Buffon, and Del Piero spring to mind. Juventus also has the distinction of being the club that has produced the most Italian internationals as well as being the only Italian club to have contributed players for every national team squad since the 1934 World Cup (which Italy incidentally won).

Historic precedent would then tell us that a strong Juventus team, one that is either leading Serie A or is pretty close to it, and one that is contributing key players for the national team, would mean success in an international tournament, going all the way back to the Nazio-Juve of the early 1930s. The only exception to this rule would be the 1970 vintage of the Azzurri, who drew their core players from Cagliari’s scudetto winning side from the 1969-70 season; the Sardinians contributed six players to an Italy side the finished runners-up to that legendary Brazilian team.

It is a pattern that has not gone unnoticed in Italy either; one only needs to hear the term Blocco-Juve and some of the older fans will remember not only the side that won the 1982 World Cup, but the squads that finished as semi-finalists at the 1978 World Cup and 1980 European Championships. All three of these sides possessed the likes of Dino Zoff, Franco Causio, Claudio Gentile, and Antonio Cabrini, all of whom were part of a Juventus team that dominated in the late 1970s and 80s.

Seven of the Azzurri squad that finished runners-up at Euro 2000 came from a Juventus that finished a single point behind Lazio in the previous season. Although Juventus only contributed five players to the World Cup winning side six years later, it was the impervious form of Gigi Buffon and Fabio Cannavaro that played massive roles in getting Italy its fourth star. Between the agony that was Euro 2000 and the ecstasy of that night in Berlin, Juventus finished each Serie A season second, first, first, third, first, and first; Juventus also finished second in the season leading up to Euro 2000.

Looking at the Azzurri since 2006 (which coincides with the end of Juve’s strong domestic presence), things have not been as good; they looked flat at Euro 2008 and eventually crashed out on penalties to Spain in the quarterfinals while everyone is all too aware of the disaster that was the 2010 World Cup. It is interesting to note that as Italy endured its worst World Cup campaign in recent memory, Juventus also suffered statistically one of their worst ever seasons in the top flight; that malaise would seep into the next year as Juve would finish seventh for the second consecutive season, missing out on European football for the first time in twenty years.

Now, however, Juventus has made huge strides in bringing the club back to the summit of Serie A, and are doing so with a core of Italian players who have also played an integral part in Italy’s most recent qualifying campaign. Is it mere coincidence that the Azzurri’s most successful cycles coincide with Juventus’ successes? Or is there something to the idea of “so goes Juve, so goes Italy”? Key Azzurri protagonists, such as Gigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, and Giorgio Chiellini, are all enjoying excellent seasons for the bianconeri, which will certainly make Cesare Prandelli smile ahead of this summer’s European Championship. The combination of Juventus being hot on Milan’s heels in the scudetto race and the form of their Italian players can only be a good sign for the Azzurri’s hopes going into Euro 2012.

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