Juventus seal 4th successive Serie A title; Tevez back to his best
Juventus clinched a fourth successive Serie A title with a 1-0 win at Sampdoria on Saturday but put its trophy celebrations on ice with a crucial Champions League match in just three days.sports Updated: May 03, 2015 00:41 IST
Juventus clinched a fourth successive Serie A title with a 1-0 win at Sampdoria on Saturday but put its trophy celebrations on ice with a crucial Champions League match in just three days.
After dominating the entire season, Juventus needed just a point to mathematically seal the title with four games to spare, and a first-half header from Arturo Vidal gave it all three.
It was the club's 31st Serie A title, and its first under Massimiliano Allegri, who replaced Antonio Conte in the offseason, just months after being fired by AC Milan.
It was also the first trophy in a possible treble for Juventus. They face Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals and will play Lazio in the Italian Cup final.
Allegri was also the last coach before Conte to win the league, with AC Milan in 2011. Andrea Pirlo was part of that team and has now won his fifth successive Serie A title.
The defeat was Sampdoria's first at home this season and left it provisionally fifth, ahead of the rest of the weekend's fixtures.
Juventus knew that even if second-place Lazio was to beat Atalanta on Sunday, a draw at Sampdoria would leave it 12 points clear with four matches remaining and the better head-to-head record.
Allegri rested key playmaker Pirlo, defender Giorgio Chiellini and forward Alvaro Morata ahead of Tuesday's semifinal at home to Real Madrid.
In 34 rounds, Juventus recorded 24 victories, seven draws and only three losses, scoring 64 goals and conceding just 19.
Carlos Tevez arrived at Juventus with a reputation as a troublemaker who had fallen out of favour both at his former club Manchester City and the Argentine national side.
But two years at the Turin side have turned Tevez back into what he was earlier in his career, a forward whose speed, quick thinking and instinct for goal make him a nightmare for opposing defenders.
Juve have tamed the wilder instincts of a player who was once sent off for Boca Juniors in his homeland after celebrating a goal against River Plate by flapping his arms to imitate a chicken. It was an inflammatory reference to the fact that Boca fans use "chickens" as a derogatory nickname for their arch-rivals.
Nowadays, his trademark celebration is to pull a baby's dummy from his shorts and put it in his mouth, a tribute to his daughter.
The 31-year-old scored 21 goals in his first season as Juventus won Serie A by a 17-point margin and has been instrumental in helping them win the title again this year.
Serie A's joint leading scorer with 18 goals, Tevez has also won league titles in Argentina (Boca), Brazil (Corinthians) and England (Manchester City and Manchester United) and saved West Ham United from relegation in his only season at the London club.
He is also one of the few players to have won both the Champions League and its South American equivalent, the Libertadores Cup.
When Tevez joined Juventus, he was worn out after four seasons at City where he infamously refused to warm up during a Champions League match at Bayern Munich.
He was also shunned by then Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella, who never once selected him during three years in charge amid speculation that he was considered too much of a disruptive influence.
"At City I was wrong. There was no trust between us and I reacted by disappearing," Tevez told La Repubblica in an interview in April. "I know I behaved badly."
However, he has thrived after being made the kingpin of the attack at Juve, something he did not enjoy at either City or Argentina. "The team mates and coach have given me so much confidence and I'm happy with the way the coach has asked me to play," he said.
"We made a kind of deal; when I get the ball, I can do whatever I want but when we're defending, I have to follow precise instructions."