Take a look at Serie A over the past decade and you can’t look past Juventus.
Eight successive titles – and now favourites for a ninth in a row following their recent behind closed doors victory over Inter Milan (although Lazio are only one point behind them) – the ‘old lady’ of Turin are top dogs whichever way you turn.
They tend to win when it matters most, even when not at their best, and have created more Serie A highlights than you can shake a stick at!
Even this term, when there have been question marks against their style of play under new boss Maurizio Sarri, the Bianconeri have shown they have a winning ingredient that money can’t buy: character.
Compile a Serie A team of the season so far, you would still include three or four Juve players in the starting XI with Wojciech Szczesny, Juan Cuadrado, Miralem Pjanic and Cristiano Ronaldo among those staking claims.
Then go back over the last decade and look at some of the players who have graced a Juve shirt: the legendary Gianluigi Buffon, a nine-time Serie A winner with four Coppa Italia and five Supercopa Italiana titles in his cabinet.
Andrea Pirlo, dictating the midfield by winning four Serie A titles in a row, he appeared reinvigorated in Turin during his twilight years.
For sure, Giorgio Chiellini has been the Serie A’s best defender of the last decade. The Bianconeri captain has played a key part in ensuring Juventus became Kings of Italy during the decade and, even before that, his loyalty never wavered even when the Calciopoli scandal sent Juventus down to the Serie B in 2006.
I could go on with players but look at the stats: eight consecutive Serie A titles, four consecutive Coppa Italia, an unbeaten league season and a 102 point league campaign, not to mention twice reaching the Champions League final.
Add in the most wins ever recorded in a single Italian top flight season and you can see why the Serie A tips keep them top of the pops.
They are fine achievements.
The 102 points were secured in 2013-14 from 38 league games – 102 out of a maximum 114.
It was in the same campaign they gained the most league victories in a season with 33 from 38 games, as well as the most home wins in a single season – 19 out of 19.
Rewind back a few years further and their unbeaten league season in 2011-12, the period when this current title-winning run began.
Then there are other sequences which impress.
They won 15 league games in a row between October 2015 and the following February. They also went 13 unbeaten overlapping the tail end of 2013/14 and 2014/15.
What’s more, the Serie A teams of the year have regularly featured Juve players this past decade.
Among the regular stars, the unsung Andrea Barzagli (who has appeared four times), Leonardo Bonucci (three times), Pirlo (four times), Paul Pogba (three times), Alex Sandro (twice) and Paulo Dyabala (three times).
Chiellini and Buffon have been selected on five occasions each.
The records haven’t stopped this term either, even if the Turin club has not been at its best.
Only a month ago, Ronaldo marked his 1,000th senior game in style with a record-equalling 11th consecutive Serie A goal.
The Portuguese genius netted in a 2-1 win at SPAL to equal the Italian top-flight record now shared with Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.
While European success has largely eluded them, they remain a force to be reckoned with seven Juventus players winning the footballer of the year gong in nine seasons: Pirlo (2012, 2013 and 2014), Carlos Tevez (2015), Bonucci (2016), Buffon (2017) and Ronaldo (2019).
In Gonzalo Higuain, they had a frontman whose 32 goals (in all competitions) in 2016-17 was the joint second highest number a Juventus player has netted in a single campaign in history.
This season, without Chiellini for so long, their defence has been porous by their own exalted standards and they have not kept a clean sheet on the road in almost three months.
In attack, they are Ronaldo-dependent.
So let’s not pretend they have been firing on all cylinders. Their dominance certainly has been challenged at times, most notably from Napoli a few years back and Inter and Lazio this term.
But, generally, has anybody come close to dethroning them from the top spot?
Of course not!
Juventus have managed 90 plus points in the past four seasons.
In each of those title-winning seasons, they have conceded the least number of goals. Arguably, their defensive players can take more credit for the club’s recent titles than the front-line.
No other team, in any of Europe’s top five leagues, has shown such domination.
Like them or not, you must respect them. They deserve all the accolades that come their way.
VISIT OUR BLOG TO GET YOUR FIX FOR ALL OF THE MOST CURRENT FOOTBALL NEWS STORIES & FEATURES