It was difficult to see where Massimiliano Allegri could take Juventus after a record-breaking 2013/14. A rare domestic double and a final in Berlin is an emphatic reply.
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After reaching the UEFA Champions League final for the first time since 2003, Italian title holders Juventus hope to improve their record in finals as they face FC Barcelona in Berlin. The Bianconeri have won twice, most recently in 1996, but their five losses weigh heavily.
Story of the season
Massimiliano Allegri was up against it when he took the reins from Antonio Conte last summer after a record-breaking Serie A campaign they ended with 102 points. The 47-year-old has taken Juve to another level. They already have a domestic double in the bag for only the third time in the club's rich history. And after a slow start to the UEFA Champions League, losing two of their first three games, they have built up a head of steam, eliminating holders Real Madrid CF in the semis.
Record this season: P12 W7 D3 L2 F16 A7
The Bianconeri had a 2-1 lead to Germany for the round of 16 second leg against Borussia Dortmund, but they were without the injured Andrea Pirlo and then lost Paul Pogba inside the first half-hour at the BVB Stadion Dortmund. From that position, a 3-0 win was remarkable. "We have realised that we have great strength – technically and physically," Allegri said after the game. "We have left an exclamation mark in Europe."
Carlos Tévez is not only Juventus' leading scorer, but the first to roll up his sleeves when needed. "He has always been the leader of this side," said Giorgio Chiellini. "Not just his words but with his performances on the pitch." Allegri has given him freedom to attack and Tévez has responded with seven goals and two assists in the UEFA Champions League this season. "He understands precisely what is needed and when, and then has the skills to do it," added Gianluigi Buffon.
Many believed Leonardo Bonucci would suffer most as Allegri gravitated from a 3-5-2 system to a 4-3-1-2. Instead, he has looked at home in a four-man line while harnessing his good passing range to build from the back. "He is the player who has matured the most this season," Buffon said of the 28-year-old. "I rate him among the best defenders around." Juve have conceded only seven goals in 12 UEFA Champions League outings this term.
The distance covered in meters by Juventus wing-back Stephan Lichtsteiner in 12 games, more than any other player in the competition. Juve have six players in the top ten for this category: Chiellini, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio, Bonucci and Tévez. You cannot accused Juve of not working for their success.
"From Berlin to Serie B, from Serie B to Berlin."
The circle of life according to Buffon, 37, who played a season in the second division with Juve after winning the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Berlin, and now dreams of his first UEFA Champions League.