After dominating Serie A in unprecedented fashion last season, all eyes were on Juventus right from the off in 2012. Some wondered if Antonio Conte's men would be able to keep up the devastating tempo, self-belief, and strong team ethic that so personified their 2011/12 campaign with the added burden of being serious Champions League contenders, too.
With Conte's ban, surprise home losses and a feeling among many that the Old Lady still need a world-class striker to complete the squad, this season hasn't been all plain sailing for the Turin side, but that said, when they're on form they still look pretty unstoppable. Here's a look back at some of the season's key performances thus far.
With Antonio Conte banned from the bench, it was nervous times for many at the Juventus Stadium. Conte was prohibited from coaching as part of the punishment handed down by Italian prosecutors for failing to report the attempt at criminal match fixing by Filippo Carobbio while he was manager at Siena, and there was fierce speculation as to how his side would perform without the charismatic and influential tactician.
In Conte's place, another former Juventus player, Massimo Carrera, took charge, and oversaw a convincing 2:0 win over Roberto Donadoni's Parma. Both goals came in quick succession early in the second half and Juve dominated throughout with over 63 percent possession and more than 50 percent more successful passes. Stephan Lichtsteiner got the first, followed by a goal-keeping blunder by Antonio Mirante, who foolishly saved Andrea Pirlo's free kick before pulling it over the goal-line anyway.
Stunned early on by a goal from Ciro Immobile—who is a Juve youth product and is still part-owned by the Old Lady—Juventus showed character by coming from behind away from home to win by two goals. Giaccherini, Vucinic, and Kwadwo Asamoah all found the back of the net in the second half, and the Bianconeri romped home convincing winners despite the early set-back.
Five goals and two penalties decided a crazy game against Juventus' long-time rivals, AS Roma. The two clubs don't see eye to eye at the best of times, but since the return of Zdenek Zeman, who was famously ostracised by the Italian football elite following the accusations of cheating and doping that he levelled at Juve in the late 90s, the rivalry has been heating up again.
On the night, Roma were poor and played nowhere near their level, but from a Juventus perspective the way they took advantage of the capital side's early mistakes and instability showed a clinical and ruthless edge that fans will be hoping can be reproduced for key games later in the season. Pirlo, Vidal, Matri, and Giovinco all netted for the Bianconeri, while only Osvaldo could find the back of the net for the visitors.
Like AS Roma, Napoli will have been one of the sides that Juve feared most before the start of the season, but like the Giallorossi, the Partenopei were unable to muster any meaningful response to Juventus' strength.
The Azzurri did manage to hold on for 80 minutes, but despite Napoli having more possession, it was Juve who were threatening the goal and eventually Martín Cáceres broke the deadlock. After a controversial summer move to the Turin giants from Manchester United, Paul Pogba scored his first goal in the white and black stripes.
The performance that finally made the rest of Europe sit up and take notice of Antonio Conte's side. After a slow start to their Champions League campaign—and a poor draw at FC Nordsjælland—many had written off the Turin side as serious contenders, but following this convincing 3:0 drubbing of the title holders, Juventus were once again being spoken of as a force to be reckoned with.
Fabio Quagliarella's first was a classic team goal, and made Chelsea look outclassed. The London side never recovered. Another from Arturo Vidal and then a late strike from Sebastian Giovinco left Juve as deserved winners, and Chelsea staring at an early exit from Europe's biggest competition.