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Success remains a constant for reinvented Juventus

  • A ninth consecutive Scudetto appears destined for Turin as Juventus extend their lead at the top of the Serie A table.
  • But this Juventus has a different image to the Bianconeri teams that delivered glory in the past, as a new chapter is well underway.
Mark Pitman
EXPERT COLUMNIST
Feature
Modified 27 Jun 2020, 19:37 IST
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Juventus
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Juventus

A new stadium, a new badge, a new kit that has dismissed with tradition and abandoned the famous black and white stripes. This is a different Juventus - a club creating a new image for the future to distance itself from scandals of the past, but its success and silverware continues.

A comfortable 4-0 victory for Juventus over 10-man Lecce on Friday extended the lead of the Italian champions at the top of Serie A. Despite the challenge of Lazio and Internazionale this season, manager Maurizio Sarri is set to bring more domestic success for a club traditionally steeped in glory.

Manager Maurizio Sarri cuts a frustrated figure despite leading Juventus to the top of Serie A.
Manager Maurizio Sarri cuts a frustrated figure despite leading Juventus to the top of Serie A.

Although their return to action after lockdown began with a defeat against Napoli in the final of the Coppa Italia, it is the Scudetto that defines Italian football history and success, and Juventus are heading towards a ninth trophy in succession.

But domestic business do not make up for failings in Europe. The UEFA Champions League remains the trophy that separates the great players and managers from their lesser peers. For all their domestic success, Juventus only have two Champions League titles to their name, the last delivered in 1995/96, which is an unwelcome statistic.

Juventus' new start headlined by Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is in his second season at Juventus.
Cristiano Ronaldo is in his second season at Juventus.

The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid in the summer of 2018 marked a significant step towards Juventus returning to dine with the rest of the European football elite. The investment was heavy but wise, and the commercial benefits of attracting the most photographed player in the world cannot be underestimated.

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But Cristiano Ronaldo has also produced on the field, scoring over 20 goals in each of his two seasons in Serie A, and he is far from finished with the current campaign yet. There was naive talk that he could be rested against Lecce, but he played the full match, contributing with an assist for Gonzalo Higuain and dispatching a penalty.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a key figure for Juventus.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a key figure for Juventus.

Now 35, Cristiano Ronaldo continues to maintain the high standards that has made him one of the greatest of all time. However, against Lecce, he cut a largely frustrated figure at the deserted stadium of the reigning champions on Friday, recognising an opportunity to increase his goal haul against limited opposition was squandered. Juventus were dominant, but the personal stats matter just as much to the Portuguese.

Although Juventus have opened up a commanding lead at the top of the Serie A table, questions remain over the future of Maurizio Sarri at I Bianconeri. He arrived as a UEFA Europa League winner, having guided Chelsea to European success last season, but has struggled to implement his Sarri-ball style at Juventus as effectively as he would have liked.

The frustration of Maurizio Sarri

Maurizio Sarri is a revolutionary tactician but has struggled to implement his playing style at Juventus.
Maurizio Sarri is a revolutionary tactician but has struggled to implement his playing style at Juventus.

Maurizio Sarri is a brilliant and innovative tactician. It is no surprise to learn that Sarri was inspired by Arrigo Sacchi and his famous AC Milan side. But there is little ground between success and failure for such revolutionaries. The results will show that Sarri is succeeding at Juventus, but his side are not playing the type of football that was seen in his glory years at the San Siro.

To implement significant tactical change on a team already at the top of the domestic game can be a difficult challenge, and it was at Napoli that Sarri proved more effective at getting his ideology across. Having made his name in Naples, Sarri has since taken an unconventional career path and is wise enough to appreciate that satisfaction only comes from playing the right way, not from winning the wrong way.

The great Arrigo Sacchi is an inspiration to Maurizio Sarri.
The great Arrigo Sacchi is an inspiration to Maurizio Sarri.

Sarri follows a long-line of high-profile names who have enjoyed mixed success as manager of the Turin giants. Carlo Ancelotti, Marcello Lippi, Giovanni Trapattoni, Dino Zoff, Fabio Capello, Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri are some of the more recent and recognisable names to find themselves tasked with making Juventus great.

But Sarri's limited application of his philosophy does not make Juventus any less entertaining to watch. In addition to the aforementioned Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain, Matthijs de Ligt, Paulo Dybala, Danilo, Aaron Ramsey, Douglas Costa, Miralem Pjanic and captain Giorgio Chiellini amongst other ensure that Juventus is a team that is not reliant on one key figure to carry them through.

Paulo Dybala remains an important figure at Juventus.
Paulo Dybala remains an important figure at Juventus.

Juventus' culture of success

The Old Lady of Turin, Juventus may have only been European champions twice in their decorated history, but they remain one of the most recognisable names in the football world. Dino Zoff, Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps, Roberto Baggio, John Charles, Alessandro Del Piero, Pavel Nedved and Michel Platini have all celebrated success in the black and white stripes over the years.

But there is a new look to Juventus now. Their new stadium is a consequence of time, progress and ambition, but their new kit and badge are a distinctive shift away from tradition and past glory. Rocked by the Calciopoli scandal of 2004 and subsequent relegation to Serie B, Juventus have made a conscious decision to create a new image for a new era.

The future is black and white for Juventus

The famous black and white stripes of Juventus
The famous black and white stripes of Juventus

Shifting from tradition in a cultural country like Italy is dangerous. The supporters are passionate about their club, its history and what it represents. Removing the famous black and white stripes and redesigning the badge would have been a step too far for some fans, but there is also an acceptance that the club needs to refresh its image.

The scandals of the past will remain a pivotal part of the history of the club that cannot be erased by cosmetic change. The aim now for Juventus is to move forward into a new era of success and claim a third UEFA Champions League trophy sooner rather than later. It may be too late for Cristiano Ronaldo, and Maurizio Sarri may not be the manager to deliver it, but the club and its progress is set to continue for a long time to come.

Published 27 Jun 2020, 19:37 IST
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