Juventus: with Cristiano but without the Champions League
Over the weekend, Juventus won Serie A – it is the eighth year running that they have been crowned league champions, lifting their 33rd title after beating Fiorentina on Saturday. But as our Italian correspondent Mirko Calemme noted, there was little euphoria to speak of in Juve’s title celebrations. Being knocked out of the Champions League by Ajax is still too recent and the pain of that exit has yet to subside. After so many league triumphs, it’s almost as if this latest one feels less satisfying. Their repeated success probably produces more anguish for their league rivals (AC Milan, Inter Milan, Napoli and Roma) than the happiness it generates in Turin. Barça have been through something similar during the past three seasons here – watching Real Madrid win three successive Champions Leagues has taken the shine off their success in LaLiga. Likewise, for Madrid, those three victories ease a little bit of the pain of missing out on the league during the same period.
Juventus' achievements compared to Europe's top clubs
But for Juventus, it’s something more worrying. In their case, there is a disproportionate difference in the number of league titles they’ve won and the times they’ve triumphed in Europe. Starting at the 1955-56 season as a point of reference – the season when the European Cup began; since then, we can see that Juve have been crowned Italian champions 26 times but have only been crowned champions of Europe twice. That’s quite a remarkable statistic. Compared to the other great European clubs there’s a massive gulf in the number of times Juve have won the Italian league and reaped success in Europe. So let’s compare them, league wins to European Cup/Champions League titles: Juve: 26-2, Bayern Munich: 27-5, Real Madrid: 29-13, Barça: 19-5, Manchester United: 17-3...
No joy in Europe
It’s something which people talk about a lot in Italy – even without the need to mention the accomplishments of Europe’s other big clubs. Just looking at it from a domestic perspective, significant how their direct rivals have fared in Serie A and in Europe compared to Juve. For example, AC Milan have 13 Serie A titles and 7 European Cups and even Inter’s figures are healthier – 11 Serie A titles and 3 European Cups. That’s no end of pain for Juve because their critics in Italy are in no doubt that an explanation can be found in the powerful influence they possess in the country. They are FIAT’s team, one of the country’s biggest companies, and their rivals suspect that they are afforded certain advantages because of that. In fact they have had a couple of league titles taken away from them for underhand conduct. Juve want and need to be doing well in Europe – and that’s why they signed Cristiano, but at the moment, all they’ve got is another league for their trophy cabinet.