Comparing Juventus to the Top Teams in World Football
Over the past two-and-a-half seasons, Juventus have been completely transformed. The Bianconeri have become unrecognisable as the dysfunctional, fatally flawed side of the past which limped to consecutive seventh-place finishes has faded from memory. Under the guidance of newly installed President Andrea Agnelli, the grand Old Lady of Italian football has been restored to her former glory to sit atop Serie A.
From that lofty perch, she has proven unbeatable, first going an entire season undefeated and now breaking longstanding records with increasing regularity. Yet, for all the success the Turin giants have enjoyed over this dominant period, their European campaigns are viewed with utter disappointment.
Even with a quarter-final appearance in the Champions League last season, the club has been portrayed as failing on the continental front. There are numerous opinions on what changes must be made in order for La Madama to once again be viewed as a member of the European elite.
The following pages include a different take, analysing how Juventus measure up against those super clubs that seem to regularly dominate the latter stages of the competition.
Off-the-field financial matters have become increasingly important to success, particularly in the Champions League. It is no surprise that, according to Deloitte’s 2013 analysis, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich took the top four spots.
Those mega clubs are in a position of huge financial strength, with the Bundesliga side enjoying an income of €368.4 million, which trails the other three clubs but dwarfs the reported €195.4 million made by Juventus. The new stadium has helped immensely, propelling the Bianconeri up to 10th in that table, but their struggles in recent seasons has prevented them from sitting much higher.
Their modern new home has seen matchday revenue leap up 174 percent, while a new shirt sponsorship deal with Adidas that could see them finally overhaul Milan for top spot in Italy. According to an official club statement released in October, that agreement is worth €139.5 million over the following six seasons.
Looking at the team, Juventus are already well on their way to becoming one of Europe’s top sides. All across the field, they have players able to count themselves among the finest in their position, combining to make a truly formidable opponent for anyone in Europe.
With men like Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba envied and admired by almost every club, Juve are seeking to topple perhaps the one factor that needs to be considered: the aging veterans of the team. While those two midfielders, as well as Giorgio Chiellini and a number of others, are coming into their peak years, four vital members of the side are on the wrong side of 30 and may prove impossible to replace.
In the defensive half, Gigi Buffon (36) and Andrea Barzagli (32) do not have long left at the highest level, while further forward both Andrea Pirlo (34) and Carlos Tevez (30) are also aging quickly. They are by no means ready to retire or move on, but their window of opportunity is shrinking rapidly, and it is up to Juventus to capitalize on it.
"Antonio has a crazy amount of ambition. He wants to win the Champions League with Juventus, I know that," Marcello Lippi said to Italian paper Tuttosport (via Football Italia).
Antonio Conte has proven versatile, adept and willing to accept change ever since arriving back in Turin during the summer of 2011. His tactical approach has evolved from an initial 4-2-4 framework to the 3-5-2 with which his side has demolished all opposition in Serie A.
Many feel that may be their Achilles' heel, however, with a three-man back line seen as a major hindrance at the highest level. The coach addressed that somewhat this term, switching to a 4-3-3 formation against Real Madrid, a move which saw his side draw 2-2 with the Spanish giants in a match they could so easily have won.
That change bodes well for the future, with the idea of it as a regular alternative inspiring confidence that Conte can compete with his contemporaries like Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti.
In short, Juventus are on their way back.
Those leaps in revenue can only help propel Juventus closer to the clubs she is seeking to rival in the Champions League, while on the field, Conte has driven them to improve in each and every season in multiple ways.
Eventually, over the next two or three years, the squad and coach will truly blossom into one of Europe’s finest. They will be a slide able to compete for the highest honours, according to one man who certainly knows what it takes to do so.
Speaking in an interview with Tuttosport (via Football Italia), Lippi discussed how important Juve’s run in the Europa League this season could prove:
“The real breakthrough for this Juve side will be winning in Europe,” the former Bianconeri boss told them.
Going on to add that “once they start doing that, who knows where they can go?” the 66-year-old summed up the whole situation perfectly. Juventus will very soon return to being a member of the European elite, with very few factors left to prevent their ascent.