It’s the last match of the season on Sunday and Juventus’ chance to grab a victory against Cagliari to end the campaign with a perfect record at home and 102 points. While the Old Lady of Turin has seemingly grown obsessed with European trophies, it’s time to acknowledge this team has always been one that valued domestic strength above all else.
The future will see further growth on a grander scale, but for the time being, it’s time to revel in the absolute glory that is a hat trick of titles they have accomplished under the tutelage of the great Antonio Conte.
The coach is getting closer and closer to committing his future to the Bianconeri. For this, Andrea Agnelli should be given some credit. While the likes of AC Milan general manager Adriano Galliani's attempt to delude the fans by speaking of past glories and demanding appreciation for what they have already accomplished, Agnelli understands that nothing really satisfies the appetites of the fans who support giants and thus is not interested in demanding respect and asking for patience. Honest and open, he has spoken of the bitterness he has felt due to the team’s failures in the Europa League and Champions League, even if the team are still breaking records and doing what they do best -- dominating Italian football.
Real Madrid has grown to be a difficult destination for tacticians to choose simply because the pressures are too great while the obsession with the Decima has filled the atmosphere with tension. Yet their obsession can be understood simply because they have the money, players and tools to be the very best in Europe.
According to Conte, Juventus haven’t yet got the tools to challenge, though they are slowly going down this tense path. Domestic glory is simply not enough anymore, and, while it shouldn’t be, he feels they must maintain a realistic approach. He does not want the pressure of having to consistently outdo himself when the squad at hand is not capable of much more.
Yet Agnelli doesn’t agree. As club president, he is realistic in what he expects and has pledged to support the tactician with reinforcements, but he is also a fan who can see his squad is worthy of more. After all, when the team finished seventh in Serie A for two consecutive seasons, no one imagined they would experience such success the season after, but they exceeded all sorts of expectations. Why should they not expect more in Europe when the likes of Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund have demonstrated how to reach the latter stages despite financial limitations?
Yes, there is a lack of quality in certain areas and the brand must be grown further to inject a certain glamour to the side, but plans are in place and victory will taste that much sweeter when it has been achieved with sweat and tears. Asking all the right questions to provoke a reaction from his coach, Agnelli has made Conte think and has made it clear that no individual is indispensable. Conte might win a Champions League with another team, but Juve are also capable of winning the trophy without Conte.
A competitive tactician who wants to do better than everyone, Conte agrees with his president to a certain extent. He enjoys having such ambitious men in charge, as long as they are realistic and willing to do more to help accomplish their objectives.
Yet despite the debate over the future for the club, it’s time to celebrate the present and the great achievements of this season by preparing for the final match against Cagliari. The Sardinians have nothing to play for, and thus, the champions of Italy are expected to win with ease in their own stadium.
However, they would do well to pay attention to the various skilled players the Sardinian side possess, including the likes of Marco Sau and Victor Ibarbo. Conte is not willing to run any risks. He will likely rely on his usual champions, such as Gianluigi Buffon, the man who will hoist up the trophy with his arms.
Let’s put thought on the future aside and celebrate Italy’s finest in their quest for even more victories at their home on Sunday.