At the start of the 2020/21 season, Juventus fans were dreaming of holding aloft a historic tenth consecutive Serie A title, yet ended the campaign spending many a sleepless night staring at the prospect of failing to even qualify for the Champions League, until final day salvation arrived.
Add the misery of an embarrassing last-16 exit from Europe’s premier competition to Porto and the humiliation of having to accept defeat when trying to help engineer a breakaway Super League, and it becomes a season everyone connected with the Turin giants will want to forget.
However, a Coppa Italia final victory over Atalanta will at least have given Juventini and debutant coach Andrea Pirlo something to cheer towards the latter stages, but the Old Lady face an important summer if they do not want to slip further down the domestic standings next term.
Player of the Season: Federico Chiesa
While enough promise was shown as a youngster at Fiorentina, there was an unexpected maturity and determination from the Italian attacker, as he looked to entice performances from more decorated teammates through his own displays.
Before the 23-year-old had even kicked a ball for I Bianconeri, some questioned whether it was a move that would stunt Chiesa’s growth, had minutes not been forthcoming, but an impressive 15 goals and 11 assists in all competition is evidence enough of his importance to the Old Lady.
Best Signing: Weston McKennie
Arriving at nearly half the fee paid for Chiesa, as a Serie A newcomer and at a club surrounded by huge expectation, the American midfielder can feel very pleased at the progress he has made during his first year in Turin.
The 22-year-old made 34 top-flight appearances and scored five goals, making the most of the opportunities that presented themselves early in the campaign, when Juventus were struggling to keep chase with title-chasing AC Milan and latterly Inter.
The Coach: Andrea Pirlo
Despite remaining unbeaten until Round 14 and brushing aside Sampdoria 3-0 on the opening day of the season, it was clear during those early weeks that the club legend had a challenge on his hands if Juventus were to keep their domestic crown.
Although they lifted the Coppa Italia towards the end of the campaign and held their nerve to qualify for the Champions League next season, Pirlo has had the best part of a year to instill his coaching philosophy on the squad and has had to take a lot of the responsibility for the regression as a collective unit, losing his job to be succeeded by Massimiliano Allegri.
When newly-crowned champions Inter arrived at the Allianz Stadium on the penultimate weekend of the 2020/21 season, Champions League qualification was hanging in the balance. However, despite the Nerazzurri relishing the chance to condemn Juventus to Europa League football next term, the Bianconeri stood up to the challenge.
A blood-and-thunder encounter in Turin had everything from goals, dismissals and plenty of controversial refereeing decisions – both on the pitch and VAR – and finally provided two quick-fire goals at either end, as Juventus eventually achieved their minimum objective.
While the performances on the pitch were enough to have Juventus supporters covering their eyes and any neutrals switching the TV over to the likes of Sassuolo and Atalanta, I Bianconeri’s involvement in the planned Super League would have soured the season even had they been crowned champions.