Serie A: Massimilliano Allegri's patience, belief guide aging Juventus to 7th consecutive Scudetto

The last seven years have been the most rewarding in Juventus' storied history as they have won the Serie A title every year, and cemented their status as one of Europe's most dangerous teams. Antonio Conte had won the league title three years on the bounce in between 2011 and 2014, before resigning right at the beginning of the 2014-15 season, citing lack of support from the board to improve their showings in the Champions League.

In the last four years under Allegri, the Turin giants have won the league and cup double four times, while reaching the finals of the UEFA Champions League twice, making them one of the most consistent teams in Europe. During this time, they have gone from being a defensive monster as a team to a team that follows a balanced style of play, evolving in their play all the time, making them a more complete outfit.

Massimiliano Allegri is lifted in the air by members of the Juventus team after their Scudetto-sealing triumph. Reuters

. Reuters

Granted they haven't always had a major threat to their control over the league, but the 'Old Lady' have impressed with their stability and tendency to negotiate any potential obstacles on their way to domestic dominance. Yet, the 2017/18 Serie A campaign was different as they spent a significant portion of the season trailing Napoli, before eventually taking the lead and sealing the title. This despite suffering a late defeat to the Partenopei in their encounter in the league a few weeks back, a loss that put them in danger of losing their title since they had tougher encounters in their schedule compared to their rivals.

Their 3-2 win over Inter Milan, who battled despite being reduced to 10 men, was a statement that they are never fazed, even in matches in which they are tested, while they are always ready to give a response. That is what has changed this season — if they were barely tested in Serie A in previous reasons and dominated their opponents, this season they were tested plenty and passed with flying colours, though some would say barely.

Allegri's coaching and the experience in the team helped them get through it but conversely, it is the growing age of the squad that has to be addressed to get the team ready for another season full of silverware and challenging for European success. Stalwarts of the team such as Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Barzagli are now old in the tooth, with the former contemplating retirement, while the latter is not far behind. Despite speculation linking him with the Arsenal job, the Italian coach has insisted he is keen on staying and helping the Bianconeri win more trophies in the future.

Their domestic double this season revolved around their coaching and some of the coach's most trusted players on the field — Buffon, Mehdi Benatia, Giorgio Chiellini, Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain. Despite the team's growing age, they ensured they attacked the smaller teams well, forcing them on the back foot quickly and kept their foot on their necks to seal results.

It was in big games that they were forced to rely on their defence to keep them safe, as they played with their backs to the wall. Their dominance notwithstanding, this has been a feature of Juventus teams for many years and Allegri has used that tradition and made their remarkable never-say-die attitude the calling card of his teams. In four years under the former AC Milan coach, they have gone from European also-rans to European giants, without actually winning the Champions League.

Their record against the other big teams in Italy shows how good they have been when challenged, as they drew two, lost two and won six of their matches against Roma, Lazio, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Napoli, always keeping the margin tight. They have the best defence in the Serie A season with one game to play, having conceded only 23 goals, while they possess the second-best attack in Italy, having scored 84 goals.

Juventus have been on a juggernaut under Allegri, winning everything at stake in Italian domestic football, while acquitting themselves very well in Europe. They have been a model of consistency and their ability to grind out results when not playing well puts them above all other teams in Italy.

They could rejuvenate their squad with some more investment and be ready to challenge for the Champions League crown again, hoping that this time, they realise their ambition. Winning seven Serie A titles on the trot puts down a marker — one that says we know we are the best and nobody can stop us. Till the other teams in the league decide otherwise, Juventus are the kings of Italy and will remain at the top.

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Updated Date: May 14, 2018 18:10 PM

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