In the United States, there's a habit amongst us sports writers to say what they're thankful for whenever the last Thursday in November, otherwise known as Thanksgiving, rolls around. It doesn't matter what the sport or topic is, we give thanks for more than just family and friends and a mountain full of food to stuff our faces full with.
Here's what I'm thankful for, with a Juventus flavor (hold the gravy, though):
- That, at almost 37 years of age, Gianluigi Buffon continues to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world. We've seen loads of players come and go at his position at other top clubs around Italy and Europe, yet Buffon continues to be one of the most consistent and best to ever play the game.
- After watching Juventus go through two consecutive seventh-place finishes, Juventus decided to smartly build from the back and assemble one hell of a defense and midfield. There have been plenty of attack-minded signings, but almost all of Juventus' defensive signings by Beppe Marotta over the last three or four years have been pretty much on point.
- Non c'e' 2 senza 3.
Can you dig that, sucka?
- Martín Cáceres and his wonderful high socks. For if there weren't high socks, he would still be an awesome player, but the high socks just make him look super cool as he slides in for another tackle.
- That the crown jewel of Italian football architecture, Juventus Stadium, is as much of a home-field advantage as it was when it opened in 2011. The stadium is still packed, the decibel level is still ear-ringing-worthy, and Juventus just keep on winning in front of their hometown supporters. What's not to like about the place?
- That Manchester United never really played Paul Pogba at the senior level before he bolted for greener pastures in Turin three years ago. What a wonderful three-plus years it has been, too. From prospect to Golden Ball nominee. And still just 21 years old with a brand new contract. Quite lovely.
- In the summer of 2013, I was able to attend a Juventus training session and game against Everton.
(Don't worry, this won't be all about me. I promise you this.)
- Claudio Marchisio is as good of a football player as he is good looking fella. No, seriously.
- Those beautiful black and white stripes. Ain't nothing better than those things on a uniform.
- Alessandro Del Piero was so amazing to grace us with his style, class and simple presence for two decades. And, for the fact, that many of us here were able to watch him for a good chunk of his career.
- PAVEL PAVEL NEDVED NEDVED!
- That we can brag about a Juventus player scoring a goal like this:
- That we can also brag about a Juventus player scoring a goal like this:
- Juventus signed Fernando Llorente two summers ago for the same kind of transfer fee they could sign me for right now. Up to this point, the 29-year-old Spaniard has scored 23 goals in 63 games with Juventus, a little less than one goal every other game. Not a bad return for somebody who has had to shake off not playing for an entire season when he first arrived last year and a huge run of poor form to begin the 2014-15 campaign.
- The young attacking players Juventus currently have on its books. Kingsley Coman is already here and showing glimpses of his talents almost every chance he gets. Domenico Berardi, still just 20 years old, and the rest of the calvary aren't too far behind. That's reason for plenty of optimism right there.
- When Juventus players speak to the press or the public, they aren't feeding us a bunch of B.S. or anything like that. Buffon doesn't mince words. Marchisio doesn't mince words. Carlos Tévez, Pogba, Llorente are all honest as can be. It's a breath of fresh air in this day and age where players can be so robotic and manufactured when it comes to talking to some people.
- While he's no longer around the club, that Antonio Conte was around to give Juventus the grinta and success it so desperately needed at the the beginning of the decade. Max Allegri may be forming his own identity with Juventus right now, but if it weren't for Conte, all of this probably wouldn't have been possible. Three years, three Serie A titles, It speaks for itself. He was the right man at the right time.
- That Max Allegri is starting to prove a lot of us wrong these days. Amazing what a simple tactical switch can do for a guy, isn't it? It's a new cycle of Juventus, and it's starting to look pretty nice.
- Leonardo Bonucci isn't as bad as some perceive him to be.
- Carlos Tévez is a Juventus player. Because he's just that damn good.
- That Milan — and cough cough Max Allegri cough cough — decided to let go of Andrea Pirlo and enable Juventus to sign him on a free transfer in 2011. It's pretty nice to see Pirlo do all of those Pirlo things in a black and white jersey rather than having them happen against Juventus.
- And, on top of that, Pirlo decided to grow one hell of a beard.
- Arturo Vidal, in the last year of his contract with Bayer Leverkusen, was able to be signed for what seems like the measly transfer fee of €9.5 million and a couple more million in bonuses. He has been one of the biggest faces of the Juventus revival over the last three-plus years.
- Andrea Pirlo free kicks. Beautiful, man.
- Andrea Barzagli cost €350,000. Seriously, let us give thanks for that one. One of Beppe Marotta's best bargain bin shopping deals.
- Stephan Lichtsteiner and all the absolute craziness that comes along with him.
- Juventus are able to field a starting lineup that costs less than some of these insane transfer fees we've seen teams shell out the last few summers. Think about all the players Marotta and Co. have bought for what it cost Real Madrid to buy Gareth Bale.
- I'm able to write about this team on a regular basis.
(Told you it's not all about me.)
- Full and complete Serie A domination that ends in triple-digit point totals.
- That 2-0 win against Cagliari in May 2012 and all the (good form of) mayhem that came along with such a thrilling run to Scudetto No. 30.
- Scudetto parades.
- Those wild and crazy guys who wear bianconero jerseys and entertain us — most of the time — every couple of days. For as frustrating as they can be some of the time, they continue to be the thing we turn to almost every weekend for nine months out of the year.
Above all else, we're thankful that Juventus is around for all of us to root for. If not, we might be doing something completely different. Or stupid, like rooting for another team entirely.
So thank you, Juventus, for being you.
- Malmo 0-2 Juventus: Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tévez score in vital away win
- Juventus 2 - Malmö 0: Initial reaction and random observations
- UEFA Champions League Game Time Thread: Juventus vs. Malmö
- UEFA Champions League Preview: Juventus vs. Malmö — Swedish meatballs
- Carlos Tévez and the 'best form' of his career