Juventus didn't just go 3 for 3 when it came to winning league titles under Antonio Conte because it was all out of luck. In his three years as manager, Conte's Juve had the best defense in all of Serie A. They allowed a grand total of 67 goals in Serie A during Conte's three-year tenure as manager, which obviously came to an end just a few short weeks ago.
That's an average of around 22 goals allowed in 38 games a year.
Just for comparisons sake, this is how many goals Sassuolo allowed last season: 72.
A lot of that had to do with the back three of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. But a lot of it also had to do with the fact that Juve have the G.O.A.T. manning their 18-yard box. Gianluigi Buffon is still the gold standard for goalkeepers these days. There have been many to come through the ranks both in Italy and around Europe, but few have even come close to replicating the same kind of success and consistency that Buffon has shown since bursting onto the scene with Parma.
Oh, and by the way, that was in 1996.
People will ask if, at the age of 36, Buffon still has it because that's what they do when players reach their mid- to late-30s and we have nothing else to talk about. Conveniently, we have evidence to the contrary.
That was against the A-League All-Stars just a handful of days ago. The positioning perfect, the reflexes as sharp as ever, and the post-save handshakes were ready for teammates the moment he got back to his two feet.
In shorter fashion: That's just Buffon being Buffon.
While we're essentially seeing the demise of Iker Casillas right before our eyes over the last season or two, Buffon continuing his incredible career makes it just that much more remarkable. You think, "Hey, Player X is in his mid-30s, he must be getting ready to hang things up, right?" Well, that may true in a lot of cases. But Buffon is the exception, not the rule to that notion.
That just comes with the territory of being the elite of the elite in this game's history.
When is Buffon going to show signs that he's nearly in his late-30s and officially close to pushing 40? I have no idea. He's been so great for so long it's to pinpoint other than his usual brilliance. There's a reason why he's still on the top of his game at the age of 36. And there's a reason why Buffon being Italy's starting goalkeeper at the 2018 World Cup in Russia isn't as farfetched as some people might think it is.
And while there's still the factor of what Juve will look like under Max Allegri, there's the constant of Buffon being his usual self. Three-man defense, four-man defense, it probably doesn't really matter to San Gigi all that much. Maybe Juventus' defense isn't as good as it's been under Conte, maybe it comes close. We just don't know right now because the only games Juve have played are ones that don't really count other than players getting in work and improving their match fitness before season opener later this month.
Either way, we know who's wearing the No. 1 jersey and everything that comes with him.
You can see he's great. Or you can simply say it's because he's Gigi Buffon. Either one works just fine.
GIANLUIGI BUFFON 2014-15 PROJECTION (SERIE A ONLY)
- Report: Juventus' negotiations with Benfica for Luisão aren't going so well
- OFFICIALLY OFFICIAL: Antonio Conte named Italy manager
- Projecting Paul Pogba's 2014-15 season
- Report: Juventus goalkeeper Marco Storari agrees to personal terms with Sassuolo
- Are Juventus and Marco Storari set to become part of a proposed Italian goalkeeper merry-go-round?