- Associated Press - Sunday, May 21, 2017

MILAN (AP) - Juventus keeps on breaking records.

And it set another one on Sunday when it clinched an unprecedented sixth successive Serie A title, with one game to spare, following a 3-0 win over Crotone.

It is the first time since Serie A was founded in 1929 that a club has won six straight titles.

Juventus won five straight from 1931-35, as did city rival Torino from 1943-49 (including a season that was canceled because of World War II), and Inter Milan from 2006-10.

How did Juventus do it and what makes the club so dominant in Italy?

Here are a few reasons:

___

NEW FORMATION

Four forwards proved the way ahead for Juventus.

Juventus was winning matches in the first half of the season but didn’t appear to be the unstoppable force it had been in previous years.

Defeat at Fiorentina - its fourth of the season - saw Juve’s lead cut to one point, albeit with a game in hand, and coach Massimiliano Allegri knew something had to change.

Allegri unveiled a daring 4-2-3-1 formation after that defeat, and the team went on to play some of its best soccer of the season.

The system puts forward Miralem Pjanic in a deeper midfield role alongside Sami Khedira, with Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic sitting just behind Gonzalo Higuain.

Not only has Juventus been more creative and dangerous going forward, threatening with every wave of attack, but it has also remained solid in defense as the forwards track back.

___

KEY SIGNINGS

Juventus already had the best squad in Serie A and it was the club which strengthened the most in Italy during the offseason.

The club splashed out an Italian-record 90 million euros ($100 million) on Gonzalo Higuain, who had scored 36 goals for Napoli the previous campaign to break a 66-year-old Serie A record.

And Higuain has not disappointed, with 24 league goals so far this season.

Juve’s summer spending spree also saw the arrivals of playmaker Miralem Pjanic, winger Dani Alves and defender Medhi Benatia, and the re-signing of Juan Cuadrado.

It has barely missed Paul Pogba, who returned to Manchester United for a word-record fee of $116 million.

___

DEFENSIVE WALL

Juve’s veteran defense continues to prove that age is but a number.

Leonardo Bonucci (30), Andrea Barzagli (36) and Giorgio Chiellini (32), who have come to be known as the BBC, have again been almost ever-present as Juventus has conceded just 26 goals all season.

Bonucci in particular has also been impressive in turning defense into attack. The Italy international, who is regarded as one of the best ball-playing defenders in world soccer, also netted a stunning goal against Genoa recently. He went on a run from inside his own half, before firing off an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area.

Behind them is the evergreen Gianluigi Buffon and the Juventus and Italy captain keeps on pulling off fantastic saves at the age of 39.

___

HOME FORM

While Juventus has been almost unbeatable on the road, it has also been close to impossible to pick up even a point against the Bianconeri on their home turf.

Juventus smashed its own league record by winning 33 successive home matches until that run was ended by a 1-1 draw against Torino last weekend.

The streak began with a 3-1 win against Bologna in October 2015.

Juventus had set the previous league record of 25 consecutive home victories under Antonio Conte, between August 2013 and December 2014.

___

INCONSISTENT OPPOSITION

Roma and Napoli have again been Juve’s closest challengers but the two sides have lacked the consistency needed to really put the pressure on the Bianconeri.

Roma has dropped points against Cagliari and Empoli, while it also fell to a surprise defeat at Torino.

Napoli has probably played some of the best football of all the Serie A teams but has also faltered against teams in the lower half of the table, drawing twice against Sassuolo as well as at home to Palermo.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide