Great Calcio Sides: Juventus 2000-06
The turn of the century was not a great one for Juventus. Despite having a great team at his disposal, Carlo Ancelotti was unable to bring any kind of trophy home during his two years on the sidelines of the Old Lady.
Juventus do not tolerate losing no matter what the circumstance, and so Ancelotti was replaced by the man he replaced in 1999, Marcello Lippi. Lippi was the man behind the great Juventus teams of the mid-90s, coaching the team to it’s second Champions League trophy as well as back to back Serie A championships.
Ancelotti would not be the only man to leave the Bianconeri in the summer of 2001. Zinedine Zidane, regarded as the best player on the planet at the time was sold away to Real Madrid for a record fee of around €75 million! Filippo Inzaghi was also sold, but with this money Juventus were able to bring in the new wave of players that would guide them to glory.
Gianluigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram, and Pavel Nedved were all brought in to the squad. They were able to upgrade all over the pitch, and recognized that David Trezeguet was ready to take over the ‘poacher’ role from Inzaghi.
However success was not easy to come by in the Serie A, and it took until the very last match day for it to happen. All Inter needed was a win vs Lazio, and the title would be theirs. Although they led twice in the game Inter were unable to hang on due to a heroic performance from Karel Poborsky. Juventus would win their match that day to finish two points clear of Inter and one point ahead of AS Roma, clinching their 26th Scudetto.
David Trezeguet became the lethal finisher that everyone hoped he would become, leading the Serie A with 24 goals. Alessandro Del Piero continued to put his name on the record books scoring another 16 for the Bianconeri. While Buffon was beginning to be named the greatest goalkeeper in the world. It was the beginning of what would become a great string of seasons for the Bianconeri.
The summer of 2002 was not nearly as dramatic as the previous one, but still improvements were made to an already prolific squad. Marco Di Vaio was the summers big signing, and he was needed due to an injury plagued season for David Trezeguet which saw him make only 17 appearances. The squad was too strong for the competition, and Marcello Lippi led the team to a 27th Scudetto.
More importantly, Juventus were back on the big stage. Lippi was the man who brought them to their previous Champions League Final in 1997 and he did it again in 2003. Amazingly three Italian teams were in the final four. A Milan derby in one semi-final, while Juventus were set to take on Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid. Juventus would squeeze out an away goal at the Bernabeau however they did lose the opening leg 2-1.
Alessandro Del Piero has delivered many great performances during his career with Juventus, but there is no denying he has had a penchant for scoring goals against Madrid. This was a big game for the Bianconeri who weren’t given much of a chance heading into this showdown with Madrid.
The friendly confines of the Stadio Delle Alpi proved to be the difference as Del Piero would assist on the first Trezeguet goal, and then wow the whole world as he twisted and turned defenders into the ground before scoring on the near side of Iker Casillas. Nedved would add a third goal ensuring Juventus to the final, it only seemed fitting for Zidane to score in his first match back at the Stadio Delle Alpi making the final 3-1 for the Bianconeri.
The final against Milan was less exciting, and Juventus would lose on penalties, but beating Real Madrid was a trophy on its own. The players had given everything in those two legs and that Del Piero goal in the second leg will forever be remembered.
Owner Gianni Agnelli passed away at the end of that 2003 season, he gave way to his brother Umberto who would see Juventus suffer a down season compared to the two seasons previous. The Old lady would not enjoy many bright spots in that season as their biggest transfer would be Ghanian midfielder Stephen Appiah, leading to a third place finish in the Serie A. They did not fair much better in the Champions League as they suffered a loss in the quarter finals to Deportivo La Coruna. The Bianconeri would once again suffer the loss of an owner as Umberto Agnelli passed away at the end of the 2004 season.
Prior to his death, Umberto Agnelli let Marcello Lippi go after the disappointing season. In came Fabio Capello with a plethora of new signings at his disposal. The re-vamped Juventus saw Emerson, Fabio Cannavaro, Adrian Mutu, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all enter the squad. They became an absolute juggernaut in the Serie A, dominating their way through to a 28th Scudetto.
In the summer of 2005 the squad was strengthened further with the arrival of Patrick Vieira from Arsenal and to no surprise they continued their domination of the Serie A. Winning the league on 91 points, 15 points clear of any other team in Italy. They formed an incredibly strong central midfield with Emerson and Vieira, to go along with Pavel Nedved and Mauro Camoranesi on the wings.
Up top, the combination of Del Piero and Trezeguet was overshadowed by the rising star of Ibrahimovic. The only criticism was the team’s inabilty to progress through the Champions League, much of the blame was put on Capello for not managing the squad between all competitions and wearing out his star players.
In the end those last two seasons were marred in controversy, as Juventus was stripped of the two titles, and relegated to the Serie B due to their involvement in the Calciopoli scandal. Following relegation Juventus lost Ibrahimovic and Cannavaro among others. The core stayed intact though. Del Piero, Nedved, Trezeguet and Buffon all showed their loyalty to the club sticking out a season in Serie B.
As Juventus has now gone on to win their 28th Scudetto (two revoked due to Calciopoli) this past year, but they have coined the phrase ’30 sul campo’ or 30 on the pitch. Meaning that despite the titles being stripped they still consider those seasons to be won on the pitch. They did just that completely dominating the Serie A with teams that no one will forget no matter what the record books say.
Follow Dan Riccio on Twitter: @DanRiccio23 and be sure to check out his Serie A blog as well.