After a nine-year title drought that was darkened by the 2006 match-fixing scandal that saw them stripped of two Scudetto titles and relegated, Juventus are back at the apex of the Italian league. The Old Lady won their record 28th Serie A title Sunday night beating Cagilari 2-0 to open a 4-point lead over second-placed AC Milan with only one match remaining.
The Bianconeri’s 2-0 win was enough to earn them their first title in nine years after their closest challenger and defending champions AC Milan lost 4-2 to city rivals Inter Milan in the San Siro derby.
Mirco Vucinic’s strike put the Turin-based club in the lead with just six minutes into the game and Michele Canini’s own goal in the 74th minute sealed a victory for Antonio Conte’s side which was sweetened by the news that Diego Milito’s hat-trick, the fourth ever in the derby, had sunk Milan.
Juventus could become only the second team in Serie A era and third in Italian league history to finish the league unbeaten should they avoid a home defeat against Atalanta in the last game of the season. Dethroned champions AC Milan were the last team to achieve that feat in the 1991-92 season under the tutelage of Fabio Capello. Perugia were the first in 1978-79 season but they never won the league as they finished three points behind champions AC Milan.
The road back to the top has been long for Juventus but they have always shown promise. After being demoted to Serie B following the Calciopoli scandal, they earned immediate promotion to Serie A, finishing 3rd in the 2007-08 before going one better to second in the 2008-09 season under Claudio Ranieri.
They however fell below standards in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 season finishing 7th in both occasions. But the appointment of 42-year-old Antonio Conte in the offseason proved a major success as the club’s former midfielder and a 5-time Serie A winner with the club as a player, led the team to the Scudetto.
Juventus might end the season even on a higher note should they overcome Napoli in the May 20 Coppa Italia final at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
But the Old Lady is set to lose one of its longest serving sons in Alessandro Del Piero come season end. The club’s captain and all-time leading goalscorer is set to leave in the summer after club President Andrea Agnelli admitted that the 37-year-old will not be given a new contract. Ill Fenomeno joined Juventus from Padova as an 18-year-old in 1993 and has made over 700 appearances for the club, winning 6 Serie A titles, 1996 Champions League as well as the 2006 World Cup with Italy among other honours.
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