It would have been extremely difficult to type up these ratings had the 2015-16 season ended in October. Thankfully for Juventus, and much to the dismay of the other 19 teams in Serie A, the season is not three months long.
The Juventus defence was already being written off in the first few months of the season this year — tired, old, lackluster were some of the words that were used to describe a defence that formed the backbone of not only a four-time Serie A champion, but of the Italian national team of the past five years as well. The situation was so dire that the entire Juventus defence — Gigi Buffon included — was awarded the sarcastic Tapiro D’Oro trophy, which is awarded to a person or group of people who have have done something stupid, or just haven’t preformed to the level for which we are accustomed to.
It’s safe to say the entire peninsula was laughing at Juventus after years of dominance. And put yourselves in their shoes, it might be awhile before they are laughing again.
Flash forward to May and Juventus are Serie A and Coppa Italia champions with the centrebacks playing a key role in one of the most unlikely comebacks in the history of the league. Nobody would’ve predicted what transpired between November-May, but it is safe to say that without the play of the centrebacks — among other things — this season could’ve gone even further south extremely fast.
It’s tough to truly put ratings on the centrebacks because a) they're really good and b) they have one of the greatest keepers of all-time behind them who is always available to save the day when the BBC & Co. have an off day or play. Nevertheless, this group of players was phenomenal this year and you don’t keep 10 consecutive clean sheets by accident. Let’s face it, as much as Buffon receives all the accolades for clean sheets and defensive records, it certainly helps having this incredibly talented group of men in front of him.
Did I forget to mention Juve tied a record for least amount of goals conceded in a single season (20) matching the record of the great...Juventus of 2011/12.
Andrea Barzagli - 8.5
What can be said about Andrea Barzagli? You don’t get nicknamed "The Rock" and "Wallzagli" for just being okay on defence. Barzagli has been a pillar for years on the backline. I’m going to take this moment to kindly remind everyone that Marotta paid €300,000 for Barzagli’s transfer. €300,000! When you take into account the level of performance that Barzagli has played at for the past five years. This season in particular, Barzagli led the backline and contributed to the growth of future stalwart Daniele Rugani. There’s something to be said about a player like Barzagli who makes up for his lack of speed with superb positioning ability. It’s for this reason that Barzagli has played at such a high level even at the age of 35 and will probably continue to play at such a level until his retirement.
Do you think Gigi likes playing with Barzagli? I sure do.
Leonardo Bonucci - 8.5
If it wasn't already clear that Bonucci has grown into a top European defender, the 2015-16 season put any doubt to bed. Whether it's his ability to lead the defence or his pinpoint long range passes that stretch out the other team's defence, Bonucci has proven he belongs on this historic Juve team. A player who literally emits the Juventus spirit and personality through his words and actions, he helped steer right the ship when it all looked lost (I'm going to repeat this at least one more time). His remarkable consistency and injury-free season was needed for Juve as it appeared that at least one player would go down to injury a week. His longevity in the teams lineup also contributed to Bonucci winning more games than any other Serie A defender this season.
He also does cool stuff like this:
I'll admit my bias makes this the Juventus goal of the season for me, but only because I got to see it live!
Bonucci also made THE most critical interception of the season, in THE most critical game of the season. Things could've gone extremely different if it wasn't for this interception:
Giorgio Chiellini - 7.75
It was pretty difficult to rank Chiellini's season. When Chiello was on the field his quality and tenacity were as evident as ever, in fact if it wasn't for his injury streak this season Chiellini was as deserving of an 8.5 as Bonucci and Barzagli, but his inability to stay on the field affected that. Chiellini injury, Chiellini returns to lineup, Chiellini subbed after 30 mins. Rinse. Repeat. We've seen this before with Chiellini (cc: Euro 2012 final) a case can be made that Chiellini's aggressiveness and toughness are sometimes his downfall. His desire to always be on the field can sometimes contribute to his injuries not fully healing properly and thus, ending up in the infirmary again and again. Giorgio played 34 games overall this season, but only 21 in Serie A. His presence was missed this season, but it did open the door for the young Rugani to enter into the spotlight and learn the tricks of the trade with actual in game experience. Here's to hoping Giorgio can stay injury free in 2016-17 because Juve are going to need him if we are to accomplish a historic sixth straight Serie A title and maybe a big-eared prize.
2 - Since joining Juventus, Giorgio Chiellini has ended a Serie A campaign without scoring only on 2 occasions: in 05/06 and in 14/15. Stamp— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) May 14, 2016
And what a goal it was!
Daniele Rugani - 7.5
BREAKING NEWS: Daniele Rugani is susceptible to yellow cards!
After 53 career games, Rugani was finally booked this year. After an entire campaign with Empoli and almost an entire season with Juventus, Rugani finally saw yellow against Fiorentina, he followed that up by getting his next yellow card...the following game.
In all seriousness, this year was a little rocky to start for Rugani, but his ability to show for Juve as he got into 21 games this season in all competitions. As mentioned above, Chiellini's absence in the starting 11 provided Rugani with ample playing time in the second half of the season. His youth and inexperience did show at times throughout the season, but it was definitely made less evident having BBC and Gigi on his side to mask any deficiencies in his young career. Allegri's patience and calmness in working Rugani into the lineup was masterclass this season — similar to the work done with Morata last season and Dybala — and it's almost as if Allegri knows what he's doing? The sky is the limit for young Rugani and next season is an important one for a key cog in Juventus' future.
Martin Caceres - 6.5
Not much can be said about Caceres' season. His injury prone career has had many wondering what could've been for Martin and this season was no different. After suffering an Achilles tendon tear, Caceres Juventus season and career were ended simultaneously on Feb. 3. Caceres was certainly a likable player and got along with his teammates but what good are you to the team if you are always injured and unable to fill in when the 2nd string is supposed to fill in. Only 11 appearances in the 2015-16 season for Caceres in what was definitely his Juventus swan song. Beppe Marotta's recent comments to the media finally put his Juventus career to bed:
"Caceres closes his relationship with us on June 30.. He has always worked with professionalism, I don’t know where he'll go next."
It is safe to say that we wish Caceres the best of luck in his future endeavors after all his contribution to the rejuvenation of our beloved Old Lady and being a part of the pentachampions club. It goes without saying, however, that we hope Martin's career takes him outside of Italy, however unlikely, as it would be tough to see El Pelado in anything other than Black and White.