Juventus, the anonymous dynasty

By | April 30, 2016

Juventus-LogoNormally, when you bring up the subject of sports dynasties, warm and nostalgic feelings are conjured up as everyone’s preferred examples come to mind.

Regardless of the specific sport or team in question, all dynasties share some common characteristics. A star player that anchored the team during that era. Perhaps, a monarchical coach that defined the club’s playing style and culture. Sometimes there are even particular matches that mark the start, finish, or climax of a particular dynastic run.

The current Juventus dynasty has essentially none of these traits.

The past five seasons have featured two coaches with completely different personalities, a virtual revolving door of star players, and no defining moment that will live on in the minds of fans and observers alike. But the question is whether this (strange nebulosity) says more about the club’s personality, the current state of Serie A, or the evolution of modern football.

Before we attempt to answer that question, it should be made clear that no, we have not forgotten about Gigi Buffon. If anyone’s face will be stamped on this dynasty, it will probably be his, but it’s hard to argue that he has been the team’s key to success throughout this run. Despite being the best goalkeeper in the league and among the very best in the world, the fact remains that Juventus has been so dominant in domestic play that he has hardly had to get his gloves dirty most of the time. Big saves in big matches are great, and he has made many, but when you are clinching the tittle every year with numerous matches to spare, it’s hard to argue that his exploits were fundamental to their success.

Perhaps, only Buffon is representative of the recent Juventus dynasty

Perhaps, only Buffon is representative of the recent Juventus dynasty

Even shifting your focus further up the field, it’s hard to pinpoint a player that they simply couldn’t have done without. Yes, Andrea Pirlo was there for the first four titles, but when he first arrived from AC Milan he was still in the shadow of fan favorite, Alessandro Del Piero, and looking back now from April of 2016, his time in Torino seems like a very distant memory. The same goes for Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal, who have been aptly replaced by the collective efforts of Paolo Dybala,  Mario Mandzukic and Alvaro Morata. And in the early years, before the arrival of Tevez, the list of top scorers features some improbable names like Alessandro Matri, Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella. Hardly poster boy material, in much the same way that only a hardcore fan of tactical Serie A play would consider decorating their bedroom walls with the likenesses of Claudio Marchisio, Leonardo Bonucci or Andrea Barzagli, all three of which have faithfully served in the trenches for the past five years.

No, this is modern day Juventus, in modern day Serie A, in modern day football.

Despite being one of the wealthiest clubs in Italy, they can’t spend quite as lavishly as their European counterparts, and so there will be no Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio or Zinedine Zidane flying the flag. Paul Pogba can rightfully be considered among the best in the world, but with every transfer window comes a rumor of him being poached by a Premier League side or one of the two Spanish giants. Not that they even need a contender for the Ballon D’Or to find success in Serie A, with the two teams from Milan being a complete mess and the remaining clubs simply lacking the resources to mount a sustained challenge.

Juventus is a perfect example of the global trend toward emphasizing the brand above all else. With a list of past club greats longer than the closing credits of some films, they still chose to name their recently constructed stadium “Juventus Stadium” for a reason. The club is bigger than any one person, past or present, and without the hope of having the likes of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo wearing their jersey, that’s the smartest, if not the most passionate, approach to adapt.

Juve are playing the long game. They will continue to build their brand year after year, hoping to catch the occasional good run in European play that will allow them to grab a Champion’s League trophy from their oligarch-backed foes.

After all, they have shareholders to appease. Who would have imagined an Italian club putting their head before their heart?

Sean Sedacca covers Italian soccer for Bigsoccerhead. You can follow him on Twitter @lazialeaNY

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