What? You expected a different picture? - Valerio Pennicino
It was fun while it lasted. (twss amirite?)
When big things happen, it tends to bring out the sentimental side in us writers. It's just the natural occurrence.
With Juventus' amazing 49-game unbeaten run coming to an end in Saturday's 3-1 loss to Inter at the Juventus Stadium, it's one of those times. There some frustrations along the way, but there's no denying the absolute joy of watching this team extend this streak week after week,
So, because the streak went 49 games, I figured I'd try to make a list of 49 things that took place over the course of the unbeaten run, And if I forgot any — which will probably be true — add them in the comments section.
1. Two of our club's greatest players ever, Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon, were a part of it and they got to finally get rewarded for sticking with Juventus during the darkest days.
2. All of this happened under Antonio Conte's watch.
3. Considering where Juventus had finished the previous two seasons — seventh place — before Conte took over as manager. And in just one season, Conte got Juve back into Europe and brought an Italian crest back on the fabled striped jersey. Talk about one hell of a turnaround.
4. Del Piero scored a goal in his last Serie A game.
5. The standing ovation Del Piero got after being subbed off against Atalanta in that game. I remember writing in my recap of the game something along the lines of "Who the hell takes a victory lap during a game? Alessandro Del Piero does." It was just one of those moments you only see a few times in your life. And you can say the same exact thing about Del Piero, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of player.
6. The fact that Andrea Pirlo cost nothing to sign.
7. And then Andrea Pirlo had one of the best years of his career in his first season with Juventus.
8. Claudio Marchisio's celebration with Conte after his second goal against Milan on Oct. 2 of last season and some of the comments at our old place of residence that followed that scintillating win. Remember that column goal dot com wrote ripping Principino? Yeah, what an overrated hack of a player. /giggles
9. The fact that almost everybody on the roster, excluding goalkeepers, scored a goal last season.
10. That or very own Ivo was there, in person, to see Juventus' complete thrashing of Zeman and Roma at the end of September. I mean, how often does somebody get to see an opening 20 minutes like THAT? Beyond awesome.
11. Almost half the games were played at Juventus Stadium, the crown jewel of this new Juve era. The place that is basically the envy of everybody else in Italy has so many great memories in just over a year after opening its doors.
12. The opening ceremony at Juventus Stadium and all the amazingly beautiful pictures that followed.
13. The first game at Juventus Stadium. Not only thrashing Parma, but the pass from Pirlo and the finish from Marchisio on the fourth and final goal.
14. Beppe Marotta paid just over €10 million for Arturo Vidal and Bayern Munich are still mad about it.
15. The M-V-P midfield. Let's be serious, people. It could be a lot worse.
16. Listening to this on a consistent loop. SIAMO NOI SIAMO NOI I CAMPIONI D'ITALIA SIAMO NOI
17. Juventus' goal differential and record-breaking defense from last season. /stat porn
19. Il gol di Muntari became something Uncle Fester made into his cell phone background.
20. Juventus 3-3 Napoli at the San Paolo and the blood pressure problems we all had afterwards.
21. Some of the saves San Gigi made just a few months after we started wondering how much he truly had left in the tank. Welp, that answer that set of questions. I guess I should formulate a couple other ones like, "Gigi, why are you so awesome?" or "Gigi, does Alena have a sister?" Ya know, stuff like that.
22. The absolute consistency Andrea Barzagli showed. What a freaking stud.
23. Just thinking about the amount of time — basically 18 months — Juventus went without losing a game in Serie A. And then trying to wrap my head around that. And then trying to think about how few teams have done what Juventus has just done in the history of the sport.
24. Andrea Pirlo's glorious beard.
25. This goal celebration.
26. And this one, too.
27. That Juventus kept this streak going until almost 50 games without their manager on the sidelines.
28. Simone Pepe teeing it up after every goal he scored.
29. Christmas videos. Why? Because of Andrea Pirlo singing, Mirko Vucinic unintentionally scaring all the kids, and Emanuele Giaccherini looking like he's in his natural habitat.
30. The number of Scudettos.
31. Vidal's goal against Napoli last April.
32. Lifting the Supercoppa.
33. Conte bringing back the grinta, something that had seemingly been missing from a club that had become famous for it. He got the team to play like he did as when he wore a Juventus jersey. That's why we love and we anxiously await his return to the sidelines.
34. 86.4. What's this number you ask? It's the amount of passes Andrea Pirlo completed last season. (More pretty numbers from Pirlo here.)
35. Leonardo Bonucci's progression from possible liability in defense to quality centerback. Patience paid off with Leo — who is still just 25 years old, by the way.
36. The fact that for the entire summer we got to see Juventus atop the Serie A standings while we tried to distract ourselves from all the stupid transfer rumors happening around us. Technology is fun.
37. And the fact that they're still atop the standings at this exact moment.
38. Because Claudio Marchisio is better than you.
39. Juventus made waking up in the wee hours of the morning here on the West Coast that much more worth it with every win that came. Sure, some of the games frustrated the living hell out of me, but I can say that popping up out of bed at six in the morning the watch Juventus is a lot less painful than it was a few years ago.
40. People started hating Juventus for being the best team in Italy again.
41. The hug Buffon gave Pirlo in the dressing room after Juve secured the Scudetto. It's just so clear how much each has been through and how much it means to both of them to have done so together.
42. Watching Antonio Conte celebrate after every goal like he's still a player and all the wonderful gifs that followed.
43. The fact that Juventus went 49 games undefeated in Serie A without the front-line striker everybody is still yearning for.
44. We've been able to watch the younger players in the squad make an impact and give us a glimpse of what the future may hold. The likes of Paul Pogba, Luca Marrone, and others who are on the way will be building blocks for the next wave of Juventus stars.
45. Having Martin Caceres, one of the few players from Juventus' first seventh-place finish team, brought back to the squad after playing with Sevilla. And then, the added bonus that Beppe Marotta built in the mandatory buy clause in the loan deal so that there would be no more shenanigans come summertime.
46. All the other goals I didn't mention because all of them, in some special way, helped the 49-game unbeaten run happen. Some were prettier than others, but they all served the same purpose: Helped Juventus not lose.
48. The late-season push towards the Scudetto. Juventus' form from mid-March on went as follows: WWWWWWWWDWW. That's pretty.
49. That the 2011-12 season ended with the 30th Scudetto celebration at Juventus Stadium and Del Piero lifting the trophy. If you didn't have a smile on your face and tears in your eyes at that exact moment, I don't know what to tell you.