Best team of the decade #4: Juventus 2014-17
When Antonio Conte walked out on Juventus in the summer of 2014, few would have thought that even greater success was to follow.
Conte was coming off a run of three successive Scudetti but severed ties with the Bianconeri just one day into pre-season.
Hard as it may be to believe now, Massimiliano Allegri was not a popular choice as his successor, having been unceremoniously dumped by Milan earlier that year.
The Rossoneri’s loss would be their old rivals’ gain as Allegri tightened Juve’s domestic dominance and established them as a European force once again.
Underperforming in continental competition had been the great criticism levelled at Conte’s Juve.
One year on, Allegri spearheaded a run to the Champions League final, where they were beaten by a better Barcelona.
Domestically that season, he carried on the fine work of Conte, leading his side to the double with little competition.
The title was won by 17 points as Juventus lost just three games all year; the Coppa Italia (a prize Conte never got his hands on) was won in extra-time.
Such domination of their domestic opposition was a hallmark of Allegri’s time at Juventus, save for a small blip at the start of his second season.
It’s easy to forget that some were calling for the coach’s head early in his sophomore campaign when they opened their title defence with just three wins in their opening 10 games.
Following that, they went on a staggering run that saw them drop just five points from the next 84 on offer and left no one in doubt about the side or the manager’s qualities.
📅 30/11/2014 🕞 90+3' 📣 Keep calm and pass it to @Pirlo_official #JuveTorino #FinoAllaFine— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen ) 2017-05-06T15:30:02Z
That sluggish start could likely be put down to some key men from the previous years’ success leaving. Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal had all departed.
Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala, Sami Khedira and Alex Sandro started slowly but soon settled. As the season went on, even Juve’s style of play became easier on the eye.
Paul Pogba remained a key presence in midfield but even his departure at the end of Allegri’s second year in charge didn’t slow down the Old Lady.
The final season of our focus – 2016/17 – may have been the closest of the three in terms of a challenge as Juventus won the league by four points but it never truly felt like they were going to be toppled.
That was something that was a constant theme of those glory years. There was a sense of the inevitable in both the title race and individual games themselves.
They always got it done.
Look at the 3-2 classic against Roma in October 2014, a game won by Leo Bonucci’s late volley. Or the last gasp Andrea Pirlo winner to break Torino hearts a few months later.
📆 05/10/2014 "Was that the best and most important goal you've scored, @bonucci_leo19?" "Definitely 👌." #OnThisDay #ForzaJuve— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen ) 2016-10-05T09:21:56Z
Then there was the Gonzalo Higuaín injury time leveller in that same fixture in May 2017 to deliver an important point as Roma breathed down their necks.
They always got it done.
That season ended with another sore Champions League final loss, this time to Real Madrid, but by the time that cruel Cardiff defeat came around, Europe was once more fearing Italy’s most successful club.
That three-year run brought in the domestic double in each season, two runs to the Champions League final and a total of 269 league points from 342 on offer with nobody getting close.
Turin became a fortress too and from summer 2014 until 2017, the Bianconeri tasted defeat on home soil just twice.
That was in all competitions. In three years. Let that settle in.
No matter who you were, Juventus were better. Except, for Barça and Real Madrid.