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Luca Cetta On May - 25 - 2012

Juventus Season Review 2011-12

As we wave goodbye to another season of Serie A, Juventus can reminisce a wonderful campaign in which they claimed Scudetto glory and lost just once in all competitions.

It may have ended on a sad note with the farewell of Alessandro Del Piero and the Coppa Italia final defeat to Napoli, but the work of Antonio Conte and all involved is to be commended. Never before had a side traversed the difficult 38-game path and made it to the other side unscathed. Nobody that is, until Juventus.

Having finished seventh on consecutive occasions it was hoped the homecoming of Conte would lead to a Champions League return. Never was it supposed to end in the Scudetto. Yet Juve managed the feat, celebrating the achievement in Trieste against Cagliari and a week later as Del Piero hoisted the trophy high after the win over Atalanta.

Conte stressed last June he wanted a side that would “sacrifice and work” while striving for his outfit to “command the play.” As Juve kept winning, claiming stirring wins over Milan, Inter and Lazio, he refused to talk about the Scudetto. He always kept those dreams under wraps

Others weren’t as cautious. Club patron John Elkann was of the opinion Conte’s return would signal a return to winning ways and former legend Michel Platini also believed Juve could end the season in triumph.

38 games without defeat, 20 goals conceded, 21 clean sheets and 20 different scorers. The stats are incredible, but the season was about more than that. Here are some end of year awards.

Best player: Andrea Pirlo – Simply mercurial in the centre of midfield. If Conte had the plan of attack, the ex-Milan star was the chief exponent. With three goals, 13 assists – a Serie A high – the highest pass completion rate and 87% pass accuracy, Pirlo was a valuable asset to Juventus and always seemed to find a pocket of space where others would not bother to look. An honourable mention to Andrea Barzagli.

Biggest flop: Eljero Elia – Conte said we would see Elia when we least expect it. This was after months of fleeting appearances. His only pitch time afterwards was a cameo at Novara when the match was dead and buried. Obviously talented, his first season just didn’t work out as planned after his €9 million move. He made just one start and even Fabio Grosso saw more minutes on the pitch, summing up Elia’s difficulties.

Best goal: Claudio Marchisio v Parma – Juventus netted some wonderful team efforts (for example Emanuele Giaccherini versus Atalanta and Mirko Vucinic versus Cagliari) but the tone was set on the opening day with Marchisio’s sublime finish. Pirlo was at the fore, lifting the ball over the Parma defence where after a perfectly timed run, Principino caressed the ball over Antonio Mirante with the outside of his foot.

Best performance: Juventus 2-0 Milan – While there was an element of luck about both Marchisio goals, it answered early season questions about the strength of this Juve outfit. The Bianconeri dominated from the off and could have wrapped up the match long before Marchisio’s 88th minute opener.

Worst performance: Juventus 0-2 Napoli – They saved the worst for last. A chance to end the entire campaign unbeaten went unfulfilled as Juve looked sluggish in the Rome showpiece. While Napoli were hungry for the victory, Juve seemed to play like they had just partied for a week…

Most memorable match: Juventus 2-1 Lazio – Juve had to win to retain first position and when Simone Pepe spectacularly opened the scoring they looked on their way. Nonetheless the defence - not breached for five matches - cracked to concede. The Bianconeri huffed and puffed until a late free kick by outgoing legend Del Piero in his 700th appearance for the club sparked wild celebrations.

Most incredible moment: The realisation the Scudetto was won – Six long years. From hell and back. When Michele Canini scored an own goal in Trieste and Inter took the lead in the Milan Derby, it was so close. When the final whistle sounded the feeling was of total ecstasy. An honourable mention goes to the following week when Pinturicchio was substituted to an incredible show of sentiment and later lifted the trophy.

The moment Juve appeared serious challengers: Lecce 0-1 Juventus – Going into Christmas looking strong was important but as recent history showed, January would be crucial for Juventus. Whereas in 2010-11 the season capitulated at home to Parma, against Lecce Juve weren’t at their best but still took home maximum points.

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