The past 12 months have been rather interesting — and that's probably putting things somewhat lightly based on what's happened. We've seen Juventus do things the club hasn't done in years. We've seen some of the most important players of the past decade head out and a new-look roster try to make its own mark in the process. It has been, well, the kind of year that is hard to truly put into words sometimes. That's both because of the good, the bad and everything in between.
But we're going to try.
Or, at least, try some of it.
It would be impossible to recap every single solitary thing that Juventus did from the first day of January to the final game of the 2015 calendar year. Unless you're into 20,000-word posts that may well keep you staring at your screen for an hour or two, then there's only the short version of it. (Just for the record, this post will end up being just over 2,700 words.)
How do you define the year of 2015 for Juventus?
Something that was both trophy-filled and made a good bit of history is always going to be described and/or defined in a positive sense. But, like I said, the summer of 2015 was one of big-time change. We saw the likes of Carlos Tévez, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal — drink! — headline a group of players that headed out of the club after one hell of a short yet successful run. But even with change, even with the ups and downs that you might not expect one of the best clubs around might have to deal with, Juventus' 2015 was quite the run — both for the good and not-so-good.
So, with all of that being said, in no particular order — although some are much more obvious than the others — here are the 15 best Juventus things from the calendar year of 2015.
Juventus making the Champions League final
For many of us who have become Juve fans within the last decade or so, the day of June 6 was the first time we had ever seen Juventus play in a Champions League final. For those of us who have been Juve fans for much, much longer, it was the return to the biggest game in Europe after such a long wait.
Juventus didn't win the game, losing 3-1 to Barcelona in Berlin, but had one hell of a run to get there. Nobody really expected them to get to the Champions League final for whatever reason. They were the club not many picked to get to the semifinals, or even past the round of 16. But what did they do? Shut all of those folks up. They knocked off Real Madrid to get to the final before losing to the machine known as Barca. Was the final score against Barca a reflection of how the game went? Yeah, probably. And even though I'm somebody who doesn't exactly go for the whole 'morale victory' thing, Juve getting to the Champions League final last season was one hell of a fun — and incredibly stressful a lot of the time, too — ride that we all viewed from afar.
Juventus winning a fourth straight Scudetto
Regardless of the managerial situation when last season got underway, Juventus had the best team in Serie A last season. There were things to overcome on top of Antonio Conte stepping aside and Max Allegri taking over the ship. Along the whole shift from one manager to the other, though, it was pretty much well established that Juve were the best team in Italy — and by a comfortable margin, too.
Juventus faced some competition from Roma for a cool minute, but then once Rudi Garcia unintentionally decided his club would do nothing but rack up draw after draw, Juventus was able to pull away and claim their 33rd Serie A title. It was the confirmation of what we already knew — Juve were the top dogs in Serie A for yet another season. Good to be reminded of it, though.
Juventus finally winning Coppa Italia No. 10
There may not be a silver star on the first Juventus kit adidas has ever produced, but that doesn't take away from Juventus finally getting a record 10th Coppa Italia win back in late May.
For years Juve had been chasing said achievement, with their previous Coppa triumph coming 20 years earlier in 1995. Thanks to a player making his return to the club after bouncing around Serie A, Alessandro Matri, and some overcoming of odds along the way, Juve captured their 10th Coppa with a 2-1 win over Lazio in extra time at the Olimpico in Rome.
Gigi Buffon has continued to be the gold standard despite hitting his late-30s
Now that the titles are out of the way, we can mention individuals. And it's hard to get all that far into a list of the most influential Juventus players of any given season over the past two decades without mentioning San Gigi himself.
Buffon turned 37 years old less than 30 days into the 2015 calendar year, and he pretty much began his late-30s like he has played throughout the majority of his Juventus career. I know I say it all the time, but it's pretty remarkable that somebody at his age can play at the kind of level he does game after game, month after month, season after season. Whether it's in the Champions League final against Barcelona or making one singular save to keep Juventus in the lead against some mid-table Serie A club, Buffon is defying the logic that says he is supposed to regress at this point of his lengthy career.
The saves, like the one pictured above, continue to blow our mind. And, as is the case, they usually equal Juventus getting at least one point coming their way. Keep being you, San Gigi, keep being you.
Juventus didn't miss a beat going from one manager to another
Yes, I know the Max Allegri era technically began in the summer of 2014, but stick with me here.
Juventus didn't truly hit its stride until late-2014 and the early weeks of 2015 as they both pulled away from the pack in Serie A and went on their unexpected run on the Champions League. A lot of it had to do with Allegri finding the right kind of formula when it came to the players that were available to him at any given time. We saw Allegri shift between formations and tactical setups both from a game-to-game basis as well as in-game scenarios.
Even this season when things weren't going right Allegri stayed the course and continued to preach patience. As we'll get to in a little bit, that patience is paying off based on how Juve have rebounded from their early-season struggles.
Max Allegri has shut a lot of us up since he became Juventus manager
I say this because not many people were all too convinced Allegri was the right man for the job when he took over for Conte in the summer of 2014. And, even with Juventus struggling to start this season, Allegri has been able to find the right solution to correct the early-season wrongs and get back into the Scudetto race.
It's definitely helped him out that Juve has seen important players get healthy and get back on form, but to say Allegri hasn't played any kind of serious role in the current rise up the table would be so completely wrong.
The absolutely beautiful goals Juventus scored over the last 12 months
Being a team that has some really, really players on its roster, scoring pretty goals is almost a certainty. And in the calendar year of 2015, Juventus players certainly scored their fair share of good looking goals.
Whether it was Carlos Tévez's right-footed hammer in the second leg against Borussia Dortmund...
Or Álvaro Morata's opener in the first leg of Juve's Champions League semifinal showdown against Real Madrid after the build-up to the goal included close to 30 passes...
Or Andrea Pirlo's free kick against Torino in late-April where he basically started celebrating before the ball hit the back of the net...
Or Paul Pogba turning nothing into an absolute something as Juve conquered the Stadio San Paolo for the first time in over a decade back in January...
Or Paulo Dybala with a wonderful bit of skill just a few weeks ago in Juventus' 2-0 win over Lazio...
There are many more that can be added to this compilation of videos, and feel free to share them in the comments below because it's impossible to get tired of Juventus scoring goals. But being reminded of the wonderful things that helped Juventus achieve even larger wonderful things is always a nice thing to look back on. Or, in this case, watch on loop 10 more times on Vine and/or YouTube.
The continued development of Claudio Marchisio's game
...on the field, you fools. He's a happily married man with two wonderful children.
At this point, Marchisio being the deep-lying, hub of Juve's midfield is not a new development. He has adapted to this role as well as anybody could have hoped. We know how important he is to this Juventus team, mainly because they are so different when he is not in the lineup. And when Marchisio has been in the lineup this season, Juve are near perfection with their results.
Marchisio is important for every reason you can think of — his calm, cool and collected on-field presence, what he adds to the midfield both on offense and in the defensive third and his obvious leadership both on the field and off it. He's one of Juve's alternate captains after Buffon, and that's how it should be.
Álvaro Morata's goals in the Champions League knockout rounds
The first part of Morata's Juve career was clearly an adjustment period to life and football in Italy, thus the reason why Allegri chose to bring him along slowly. But once he got up to speed, it was full steam ahead for the young Spaniard.
Morata's second half of the season included big goal after big goal. Not just big goals, but big goals that were in the Champions League. Morata scored at least one goal against three of the four Juventus knockout round opponents. There were the goals against Borussia Dortmund, then the pair against his former club Real Madrid — including the one that sent Juve to the Champions League final — and one more for good measure in the final against Barcelona.
One Argentine striker leaves his mark on Juventus
Carlos Tévez's stay at Juventus wasn't very long in the grand scheme of things. Two years at a club isn't long no matter if it's a star player or one that is essentially serving as the late-game substitute at the end of games in the mold of Simone Padoin. But in those two seasons, Tévez had one of the best runs of any Juventus striker we've ever seen.
In a post-Del Piero world, Tévez proved to be worthy of such the lofty standards set by those who wear the Juventus jersey with No. 10 on the back of it. His final goal-scoring tally at Juve was simply superb: 96 games played, 50 goals scored. Twenty-nine of those goals came during the 2014-15 season, including seven of those coming in the Champions League.
No one can blame him for wanting to finish his career where it started in Argentina. You just wish, with the way he played, his Juventus career lasted another year or two longer. But even with that, he was one hell of a signing.
Another Argentine striker begins his own Juventus career with a bang
The initial price tag was steep, and when it's all said and done, Palermo will likely see €40 million head in its direction. But, as the saying goes, the price to acquire young, world-class talent isn't cheap (unless it's Paul Pogba), and Dybala is definitely a world-class player in the making.
The first month of his Juventus career involved us wondering why Allegri wasn't playing him consistently. The next three months have involved us looking at Dybala and making swooning sounds while watching score goal after goal. In 16 Serie A appearances this season, he's already two-thirds of the way to his goal total from last season with Palermo.
Watching Dybala grow into his role at Juventus has been one of the most enjoyable things of this current season. He has the skill, the personality and the obvious desire to make his stint at Juventus a truly special one.
Paul Pogba's development into one of the best in the world
Many will look at The Guardian's Top 100 footballers of 2015 list and wonder why Pogba is ranked so high, above the likes of . (Amongst other things, I will look at said list and wonder where the hell Claudio Marchisio is, but that's just me.)
But no matter where you think Pogba should be at on said list of the best in the world, he's up there somewhere. In a four-year period since arriving at Juventus, Pogba has gone from "teenager with potential that Manchester United let go for free" to the eye of every big-money club who wants to spend upwards of €100 million for the 22-year-old French midfielder. That's quite a transformation, and it's not like Pogba is doing anything to make people think otherwise.
The influx of young talent on the roster
Dybala. Morata. Stefano Sturaro. Daniele Rugani. Alex Sandro. Maybe we can thrown in Domenico Berardi in a few months, Alberto Cerri in a year or two, and some other names that will likely be added along the way. A lot of clubs would like to have a core like that to build around going forward. This is Juve's current situation. Pretty cool, huh?
This is a big part of what the summer of 2015 was all about. Of course, the task of replacing the players that left over the summer was priority No. 1 because Juve are still expected to be in the title hunt. But, maybe just as important, the front office's job was to lower the average age of the squad — and that's what they did. Juve's core, while still led by the likes of Buffon, Marchisio and the BBC defense, is much younger than it was come the end of the 2014-15 season.
And to think that in the summer of 2016 that Beppe Marotta and Fabio Paratici will likely add more to it (headlined by, we all hope, a Berardi signing) ... man, oh, man.
Leonardo Bonucci's rise to one of the best centerbacks in Europe
This guy, this guy right here, has seen a lot happen since he arrived from Bari (and Genoa, technically) before the 2010-11 season. A lot of it has been good, some of it not-so-good, and a little bit of it had to do with how Bonucci has personally played.
But what we saw during the 2014-15 season was a player who had made the leap and had the best season of his career. Bonucci wasn't just really good, but he was great. Of all the great performances Juve got from its incredibly talented roster last season, Bonucci had one of the best — and most consistent — of the bunch.
Juventus is set up for another Scudetto run
And thus the beauty of having a seven-game domestic winning streak to close the calendar year.
With their first two games of 2016 against clubs in the bottom third of the table, the possibility of extending that winning streak into double digits is a real possibility. When the second half of the season officially begins in the third week of January, Juventus will — at least in theory — with a legitimate shot at winning the Serie A title once again. Who knows how many points they will be out of first place by the time they see Udinese for the second time this season, but if they continue along their current path, things will be awfully good with so many big games arriving in late-January, February and March.