Serie A

Another double for unstoppable Juventus - Serie A in 2015/16

 
10:00am on Monday 13th April 2020
By
Martin Macdonald

The 2015-16 season proved that the Juventus juggernaut was truly unstoppable. The Bianconeri made a disastrous to the start of the season yet they still ended up winning a fifth consecutive Scudetto with three games to spare.

Gonzalo Higuain’s record-breaking form in front of goal had sparked giddy talk of a first title triumph since 1990 for Napoli but the Partenopei’s challenge was derailed by a 1-0 loss in Turin.

Juve had initially struggled to come to terms with their Champions League final loss to Barcelona, while the losses of Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo were keenly felt in midfield, particularly by Paul Pogba, who seemed burdened by the responsibility of wearing the No.10 jersey.

However, Sami Khedira eventually settled, Alex Sandro proved an exciting addition at left-back, Mario Mandzukic offered more resilience and aggression in attack than Alvaro Morata and the seemingly ageless Gianluigi Buffon broke Sebastiano Rossi’s record for minutes without conceding a Serie A goal.

Juve’s key man, though, was Paulo Dybala, the summer signing from Palermo who achieved the seemingly impossible by ensuring that the inspirational Carlos Tevez wasn’t missed in the slightest.

CHANGES

Juve weren’t the only active side in the transfer market. After their dismal 10th-placed finish the season before, Milan chose Sinisa Mihajlovic to replace Pippo Inzaghi and, after years of parsimony, Silvio Berlusconi spent big, bringing in Carlos Bacca, Alessio Romagnoli, Andrea Bertolucci and Luiz Adriano.

The Rossoneri also thought they had wrapped up a deal for Geoffrey Kondogbia but the Frenchman instead opted to join city rivals Inter. It looked like quite the coup for the Nerazzurri but the former Monaco ace proved a massive waste of €40m.

Inter fared better with the likes of Miranda and Ivan Perisic but Martin Montoya, Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic also disappointed at San Siro.

Elsewhere, Lazio successfully hijacked Fiorentina’s move for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and he quickly established himself as one of the most promising young midfielders in world football.

The Viola also lost their bid to block Mohamed Salah from joining Roma on loan from Chelsea as they thought that they had the option to extend the winger’s stay at the Artemio Franchi and could only watch on in horror as the Egyptian enjoyed a fine season in the capital.

SEASON SUMMARY

Serie A was left in a state of shock as reigning champions Juventus lost their opening two games, at home to Udinese and away to Roma, for the first time ever. Further defeats at Napoli and Sassuolo left the Bianconeri 12th after 10 rounds, and with their hopes of a fifth successive Scudetto seemingly in tatters.

At that point, Roberto Mancini’s Inter, who had opened with five wins on the spin, looked best placed to take advantage but it became clear after the winter break that the Nerazzurri did not have the requisite firepower to sustain a title tilt and they ultimately finished a distant fourth.

On the plus side, they performed a lot better than their city rivals, with Milan firing Mihajlovic in April after a run of five games without a victory. Caretaker coach Cristian Brocchi failed to inspire an upturn in their league form, but he did lead the Rossoneri to the Coppa Italia final, where they somewhat unluckily succumbed to an extra-time goal from Juventus striker Alvaro Morata.

Serie A Player of the Year, Leonardo Bonucci

Roma’s decision to fire their coach, Rudi Garcia, reaped dividends, though, as Luciano Spalletti secured Champions League football via a third-placed finish on the back of a 17-game unbeaten run.

Spalletti’s return came too late to spark a Scudetto challenge, as Serie A became a two-horse race between a Gonzalo Higuain-inspired Napoli and a resurgent Juve, who reeled off 14 wins in a row to trail the Partenopei by just two points going into their top-of-the-table clash in Turin on February 13.

The champions prevailed thanks to a late goal from Simone Zaza, prompting a decisive shift in momentum. Napoli tried to fight back but their Scudetto dream effectively died the day they were beaten 3-1 by Udinese, a game in which Higuain was shown a straight red card and, thus, banned for three matches.

Juve racked up a record-equalling fifth consecutive title when Napoli lost at Roma on matchday 35.

AWARDS

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

The Italian was not only a rock at the heart of the Juventus defence, he was also one of their key playmakers thanks to his fantastic range of passing.

MANAGER OF THE SEASON

MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI

The former AC Milan coach only further endeared himself to Juventus fans by masterminding yet another domestic double.

TOP GOALSCORER

GONZALO HIGUAIN - 36 GOALS

The Argentine made history by netting 36 goals to break Gunnar Nordahl’s record (35) for a single Serie A season - a remarkable feat given he only played in 35 games.

GOAL OF THE SEASON

HIGUAIN'S record-clinching strike against Frosinone was as spectacular as it was historic, with the forward controlling a pass from Dries Mertens on his chest before acrobatically volleying home.

TEAM OF THE SEASON

BUFFON; KOULIBALY, BONUCCI, BARZAGLI, CHIELLINI; PJANIC, POGBA, NAINGGOLAN, HAMSIK; DYBALA, HIGUAIN

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

Paulo Dybala

Palermo to Juventus

€40m

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

There were just two minutes of normal time remaining in Turin when Simone Zaza’s deflected strike flew past Pepe Reina and into the Napoli net. The 1-0 victory saw Juventus replace the Partenopei at the top of the table but, more importantly, it crushed the spirit of Sarri’s side.

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