Leaving aside Max Allegri’s phenomenal ability of conveying his tactical ideas in the game of every single player who wore the Bianconeri colours this season, the main reason for Juventus’ surge towards a fourth consecutive Scudetto, the long-awaited 10th Coppa Italia and the Champions League final in Berlin was probably the force of the group — the way in which, through dedication and hard work, Juventus functioned as a family.
In order to compete at the very top level, however, football will require a fair amount of moments of individual brilliance. The difference between two great teams rigorously prepared tactically will be made in a fraction of a second by a long-range screamer, a sublime through ball to break the defence or a dazzling piece of skill just inside the area, finished off with a goal.
This writer will have to concede, despite his fondness for teamwork and defending, that those are the moments with the greater power of leaving a mark on the memory of tifosi all around the world. Alessandro Del Piero’s superb last minute first-time volley against Fiorentina in 1994 , his doppietta at the Santiago Bernabeu, Pavel Nedved’s masterfully-placed strike with the outside of his boot against Ajax, or — perhaps surprisingly for some but of the utmost importance — Alessandro Birindelli’s perfect cross for Marcelo Zalayeta’s extra-time winner at the Camp Nou.
This campaign made no exception and such wonderful moments seasoned the journey to make it truly unforgettable. And in the majority of the cases, the strikers were to be blamed for the sudden jolts of adrenaline the supporters received. If Serie A was a long road in which everyone had their say, the knock-out stages of the Coppa and especially the Champions League were the parts in which individuals stood out. Carlos Tévez and Alvaro Morata scored nine of Juventus’ 10 goals in the eliminatory phase of the Champions League, while Alessandro Matri was one of the main protagonists of the Coppa Italia triumph.
Point is, Juventus’ attack worked. And it worked throughout the season — regardless of who played from the start. Many thanks and all that!
Now, let the ratings begin.
Carlos Tévez: 9
It was just like a hurricane — came out of nowhere, destroyed everything in its way, laughed in the face of mothers and babies crying, and then moved on, leaving behind damages and casualties of all sorts. The two years Tévez spent in Turin have passed in the blink of an eye but it is fantastic how much one can accomplish in such a negligible amount of time.
Before you even managed to close your eyes, Tévez had already scored 19 goals in his first Serie A season — a slight improvement for Juventus from the previous 2012/13 one when top goalscorers in the league were Mirko Vucinic and Arturo Vidal with 10 goals each — 19 (NINETEEN!) behind the leader at the time Edinson Cavani.
And by the time you have opened your eyelids, El Apache had already topped that performance by a goal, scored seven in the Champions League, the decisive penalty against Colombia that took Argentina in the Copa América semifinals and confirmed his move to his beloved Boca Juniors, the club where he started poaching ‘em goals as a young Carlitos.
The best player of the season — and the season before — Tévez has been the epicentre of Juventus’ tormenting attacks. Never giving up and always working for the team, the Argentine was one of the players who re-established the winning DNA within the Bianconeri ranks. Any more superlatives describing his attitude and fantastic talent would be redundant.
It is worth remembering, however, some of his surreal goals scored in black & white this season, like the majestic opener that silenced the Yellow Wall at the Westfalenstadion... (excuse the silly soundtrack)
The unique indirect free-kick transformed against Empoli...
Or the astonishing solo run against Parma that started a most amusing hashtag #ThingsTevezCouldDribble... (excuse that wicked, soprano scream)
Alvaro Morata: 7.5
The Juventus adventure did not start brilliantly for Morata. Third–choice goalkeeper Rubinho experienced an individual career-best moment when everybody was talking only about him ... about him colliding with and injuring Morata in one of the Spaniard’s first training sessions. Almost two months on the sideline, combined with the necessity of adapting to a new culture, lifestyle, an altogether different type of football and different training methods, made it hard for the then 21-year-old to play his best football.
But these issues only made Morata’s situation very similar to the one Fernando Llorente found himself in just a year before and, just like his compatriot, Morata had a terrific impact on the second part of the season, quickly developing a great attacking partnership with Tévez.
Decisive goals in the Coppa Italia and Champions League made from Morata a man for big occasions, although his young age, joined by the desire to prove himself and the limited amount of playing time registered at the top level were factors for his incandescence and, sometimes, inability to negotiate situations as required — hence the several yellow and red cards.
As he is just 22, Morata has the potential to be the perfect striker for many years to come and his winning mentality is proving just that. "I didn’t even take the medal. I don’t have silver medals at home," said Morata after losing the final in Berlin. The upcoming season, a duo with Paulo Dybala will be thrilling to watch.
Deal with it.
Fernando Llorente: 6.5
Oh, the big man, The Lion King. How very different from the prolific striker of the previous season. His usually ferocious roar was nothing more than a feeble meow of a toyger ... a toyger cat.
Somehow, Llorente registered 31 games in Serie A — a surprising 25 as a starter — scoring seven goals in the process. It is worth to add two of these goals came in the 7-0 thrashing of Parma. But it wasn’t just the lack of goals or the fact that the Spaniard created a lot fewer chances for his teammates than he used to. Llorente was not himself. The lack of confidence on the pitch was something of a mystery — especially after the fantastic football played in the second part of the last season.
It is hard to explain how or why a once prolific goal scorer is suddenly losing his touch. Perhaps the addition of Morata to the striking force had a negative influence on him somehow, although Llorente’s good friendship with his compatriot — and the rest of the team, in fact — was all over social media throughout the year.
Despite all that, Allegri had faith in Llorente and counted on him on several occasions, in which the striker did his best — definitely not at the spring 2014 level, but decent enough for Juventus.
Alessandro Matri: 6.5
Coppa Italia hero. A great man in the locker room. A part of the core group of players with a strong bond between them, who have been at the club when the Andrea Agnelli adventure started to deliver fantastic results. And a wonderful man.
Matri rejoined Juventus in January on loan as a backup striker, after he has been sold to Milan in the summer of 2013 for €11 million. All in all, another great piece of business from Beppe Marotta.
Making only five appearances in Serie A and two in the Champions’ League, Matri was content with his role on the bench. Even more, in the two games played in Coppa, he managed to score against Fiorentina in semi-finals and the winning goal against Lazio in extra-time of the final, to deliver the trophy in Turin.
What else would you expect from him? The perfect backup.
Kingsley Coman: 6
The 19-year-old Frenchman had a decent first season with Juventus, under the close tutelage of Allegri and Patrice Evra — who received a free hand from Coman’s father to discipline the youngster whenever needed.
Agile, skilful and showing real pace down the wing, Coman was involved in 14 Serie A games — starting five — and in all Coppa Italia matches, excepting the final. His strike against Verona was, hopefully, a sign of things to come but right now, Coman needs more playing time than Juventus can offer.
Here’s the beauty: