“These are the games in which history is made,” an excitable Antonio Conte exclaimed after leading Juventus to consecutive Supercoppa triumphs.
And make history the Italian champions did, their 4-0 demolition job of Lazio the most one-sided edition of the traditional season curtain-raiser since 1990. By the time Stephan Lichtsteiner utterly decimated his former employers by rolling in Juventus’ third, all the evening had served to confirm was the unyielding vice-like grip the Italian champions had exerted on domestic silverware.
Which was a bit of a let-down really, considering Napoli did an admirable job confirming their status as pretenders to the Old Lady’s throne in the corresponding fixture last year. The backdrop to Sunday’s mix had been promising too. Bickering over the venue and subsequent division of earnings. Discussing Juventus’ underwhelming pre-season to death. The cheek of Conte to utilise Trigoria as his base of operations. Miroslav Klose’s defiance to his Gianluigi Buffon curse.
Reality proved a different matter as all the hype came to nought. Fairly even full-time statistics deceived in the face of outright Juventus dominance, almost as if Vladimir Petkovic’s men never showed up for the challenge.
Klose, Hernanes and Stefan Radu chances were trivial punctuations in the Bianconeri’s bombardments. Andre Dias and Giuseppe Biava confirmed they are way past it, after being pulled all over the place by a mobile attack and held utterly culpable for their opponents’ three-minute blitz; Biava’s ‘attempt’ to play Lichtsteiner offside as Giorgio Chiellini ambled undeterred into his scoring position was particularly shameful.
That only Luis Cavanda, Antonio Candreva and Senad Lulic exhibited any sense of urgency or desire to push their glamorous counterparts to the wire ensured a potential humdinger had been lost to incompetence, and so Serie A is a poorer league for it. Based on the latest ‘test’, winning is becoming worryingly habitual for Juventus, and it is not just down to their own merits but also the abundant failings of those who claim to try and deny them.
At the very least, Conte’s men made a good show of their landslide performance. Lichtsteiner underlined his worth as a one-man army down the right with the same sort of rampant display that first endeared him to the Turin faithful way back in 2011. Paul Pogba put in another vaunted display that will mean Claudio Marchisio or Andrea Pirlo must soon entertain prospects of looking in on the starting 11, the prodigy again staking his claim for a shot at the big time with aplomb.
Flaunting Martin Caceres and Angelo Ogbonna in defensive cameos at the end highlighted the embarrassment of riches residing at Vinovo, poised to saunter to a hat-trick of Scudetto victories next year – a feat not witnessed by fans spanning a couple of generations.
Similarly, the partnership of Mirko Vucinic and Carlos Tevez provides a combination of mystique and verve in an attack bristling with enough firepower to take a meaningful shot at winning everything in sight this term.
Great teams do not remain great by resting on their laurels, and Juve are increasingly bringing their dreams of making history into focus. Given the continued cumulation of the team’s venerable senators alongside quality upstarts and the promise of additional growth on the commercial front, the aristocrats can therefore stay secure in their lofty perch as the season approaches, unfazed by the furore going on around them.
Only, the very least they could now wish for in their unrelenting hunt for glory is a fair fight en route. Be it for the Serie A or Coppa Italia prizes, we all hope their next challenger can do themselves and the league the justice of being a worthy adversary.
Follow Jeremy Lim on Twitter: @JLCalcio