Could this be the Old Lady’s year in Europe?

By Sam Stone

It has been a barren spell in Europe for the Italian giants since the last time they lifted the big-eared European Cup, but could their drought be set to come to an end?

The early signs in this year’s competition are extremely promising. Juventus are one of only three teams with a 100% record in the competition so far, having not conceded a goal in the process.

Juventus have always been a particularly stubborn side in defence, especially since the start of Antonio Conte’s spell in charge.

“Juventus is a different level of quality,” Jose Mourinho said, after he watched his side fall to a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford to Juve.

“I have to be honest. A level of quality, stability, experience, know how. The base of the team they have Bonucci and Chiellini.”

However there have been many in Italy who have noticed a more dominant Juventus in possession this season. Paolo Bandini, a European football writer feels it’s a different side to the vintage of previous seasons.

“I appreciate that this is not a vintage United, but 70% possession for an away team at Old Trafford feels astonishing.”, he said.

The Opta stats support Bandini’s claim. In the first 30 minutes at Old Trafford not one United player touched the ball more than any Juventus player, suggesting that we are witnessing a change in tact from the seven-time reigning Italian champions.

This defensive capability has seen them teeter on the edge of European glory in recent years, having reached the final in 2015 and 2017. Last year the Old Lady can also count themselves unlucky, as last season they very nearly knocked out eventual champions Real Madrid.

Now representing the Italian giants in their attempts to rectify the disappointment of years gone by, Cristiano Ronaldo is a Bianconeri.

Adding a lethal cutting edge in front of goal, and this ability to turn games on a dime, Ronaldo could be the final piece of the puzzle for Max Allegri’s side. His European know-how, experience and pedigree will all prove vital in the latter stages of the competition, where things so often come down to fine margins.

Chloe Beresford, a journalist that closely covers Serie A said that she believes as much.

“The addition of Ronaldo has certainly changed things for them,” she explained.

“In the past few years, he has been the difference between the Turin Giants and Real Madrid, so not only do Juventus avoid facing him as an opponent, but they can boast him as a weapon.”

He has 120 goals in Europe’s top competition, including four goals in six finals. In total Ronaldo has won five European cups with Madrid and Manchester United. Ronaldo’s desire to win even at the age of 34 could be a big factor for Juventus in this year’s competition.

Furthermore, the ‘Old lady’ has been recognised for some extremely impressive signings along with a developing business model.

“Juventus have been aiming towards developing a business model that will allow them to compete with Europe’s top clubs ever since Andrea Agnelli (part of the historic Juve family that also own Fiat) was appointed Chairman in 2010,” Beresford added.

This business model could be seen to be reaping the rewards, and Beresford believes that the continued improvement could mean it is their time in Europe as well as domestically.

“They have consistently improved a team that has reached two of the last four Champions league finals, the profits associated with owning their own stadium have helped them with this dramatically.”

Their astute business plan has allowed them to capture players of Ronaldo’s calibre. Beresford feels that this is the key to them competing on a European stage.

“I think they do have what it takes to win the Champions League this term. They were close before, and having Ronaldo provides that missing piece of the puzzle that can push them over the line.”

Leave a Comment