Juventus clinches Serie A title after glum season
ROME JUVENTUS and its fans celebrated into the early hours of Monday after the team ended several years of agony and shame with a 28th Serie A title.
Juve fans filled streets and squares across Italy, with a large group awaiting the team at the Turin airport on its return from Trieste, where they beat Cagliari 2-0 late on Sunday to take the title a week ahead of the season finale with an unbeaten record.
Holders AC Milan had moved within one point in a midweek, but its hopes ended in a 4-2 defeat against crosstown rivals Inter.
Ironically, Juve secured its 28th title in a stadium named after Nereo Rocco, a legendary coach of rivals Milan in the 1960s and 1970s, who was born and died in Trieste.
The fans’ street parties helped forget frustrations from a nine-year drought, during which Juve was stripped of two titles in a corruption trial that also sentenced them to relegation in 2006.
As they remain Italy’s most winning club, tallying titles has become an issue for Juve, who would now like to add a third star on their jersey - one being awarded every 10 titles - as they repeatedly appealed against the rulings from the domestic federation.
”The pitch said that Juve have won 30, and I five,” goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon told Sky TV.
“I was awarded three.
Amen.”After the World Cup won in 2006 this is my greatest joy,” said Buffon, whose blunder in a 1-1 draw with Lecce on Wednesday had allowed Milan to close in.”They were, as football is concerned, the worst three days of my life. I dedicate the title to my family, but also to captain(Alessandro) Del Piero, and to (ex-players Mauro) Camoranesi, (David) Trezeguet, (Pavel) Nedved, to all those who (in 2006) accepted to play in the Serie B.” The rarely fielded Del Piero, who at 37 appears set on leaving Juve after 19 seasons, 700 games and 289 goals, also recalled the season in the lower division and looked ahead to an Italian Cup final set for May 20 against Napoli.” In 15 days we have another game that we want to win,” he said.
“For me now there is only a will to smile. There will be time to talk about other things.
”To many, the hero of the day was Antonio Conte, a former Juve midfielder who took over as coach last July after series of dismal seasons.
”Conte is the world-beater,” titled la Repubblica, while former star striker and club honorary president Giampiero Boniperti wrote on Turin’s La Stampa that Conte “cemented a granitic group, transferring to the team his extraordinary enthusiasm, his determination, the will to win that marked his career as player.” Between 1991 and 2004, Conte won five titles and one Champions League as a player with Juve.
As coach he steered Bari and Siena to the top flight.
”We are happy to have crowned a season that has become extraordinary,” Conte said.
“It came from the boys’ merit, from their availability and from the fans, who immediately believed in us.”Honour, however, goes to the losers, too. We confronted a very strong opponent like Milan and this makes our victory even more important.”Now I wish myself to end the season unbeaten. It would be a historic thing. As to the number of titles, as coach it is my first.” Juve can become the first team to stay unbeaten since the Serie A grew to 20 teams in 2004 if they don’t lose against Atalanta on Sunday. Milan succeeded in the 1990s in an 18-team format and Perugia once went without in a 16- team league.
The Bianconeri’s triumph is largely owed to its stingy defence, which conceded 19 goals from 37 games.
Up front, Conte’s tactics have brought 18 different players to find the net for a total of 65 goals. The weekend’s chants and car honking are believed to be just a dress rehearsal of what will happen next weekend at the Juventus Stadium.