Serie A

Conte returns to make Juventus unbeatable - Serie A in 2011/12

 
9:00am on Thursday 9th April 2020
By
Martin Macdonald

Juventus hoped that the appointment of former midfielder Antonio Conte as their new coach would, if nothing else, restore some pride in the jersey after two consecutive seventh-placed finishes. He did a lot more than that, though.

Conte made history in his first season in Turin, winning the Scudetto by leading Juventus through the season undefeated - becoming only the third side to have done so, and the first in a 20-team Serie A.

None of Juve’s strikers proved particularly prolific - Alessando Matri was the only one to hit double figures (10) in the league. However, Conte’s side was founded upon a rock-solid defence of Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Stephan Lichtsteiner, with the decision to switch to a 3-5-2 proving one of the most significant formation changes in Italian football history.

He also shrewdly built his midfield around the playmaking brilliance of Andrea Pirlo, who made a mockery of AC Milan’s decision to release him in the summer of 2011 by flourishing alongside the dynamic duo of Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal.

CHANGES

While the free transfer of Pirlo proved one of the most important in Juve's history, the acquisitions of Lichtsteiner (€10m) and Vidal (10.5m) from Lazio and Bayer Leverkusen, respectively, also turned out to be absolute steals.

AC Milan also did some decent business, picking up Philippe Mexes from Roma on a free and taking Alberto Aquilani on loan from Liverpool, while Palermo's Antonio Nocerino proved one of the revelations of the season.

Having also unsurprisingly taken up their option to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a permanent basis from Barcelona for €24m, the Swedish striker proved money well spent.

Inter's market did not go quite so well, which contributed to Gian Piero Gasperini's early difficulties. The Nerazzurri pocketed €27m from the sale of Samuel Eto'o to Anzhi Makhachkala but they squandered it on the likes of Ricky Alvarez (€11.9m), Jonathan (€2.9m) and Diego Forlan (€5m).

Roma, meanwhile, made several signings for new boss Luis Enrique, including Gabriel Heinze, Fernando Gago and Dani Osvaldo, but Miralem Pjanic and Erik Lamela were their biggest success stories.

As for Lazio, Djibril Cisse sparkled occasionally but he was largely overshadowed by Miroslav Klose, who showed that he still had plenty to offer at the highest level.

SEASON SUMMARY

Gasperini’s Inter reign didn’t even last until the end of September, with the former Genoa boss unceremoniously sacked after failing to win any of his first five games in all competitions and the Nerazzurri sitting 18th in the Serie A standings.

His replacement, Claudio Ranieri, fared slightly better but was ultimately fired himself, with Primavera coach Andrea Stramaccioni then installed as coach on an interim basis.

Luis Enrique saw out the season but nonetheless left Roma after topsy-turvy campaign that ended with the Giallorossi failing to qualify for Europe by coming home seventh.

Lazio fared far better under Edy Reja but the Biancocelesti were sensationally beaten to Italy’s third and final Champions League berth by Udinese, with a run of six defeats from nine games ultimately responsible for the capital club falling to fourth in the closing weeks of the season.

Serie A Player of the Year, Andrea Pirlo

The Zebrette deserved the utmost credit for the way in which they had reacted to the loss of Alexis Sanchez to Barcelona, even topping the table at one point in October.

However, the Scudetto race became a straight shootout between the resurgent Juve and defending champions Milan, who met at San Siro on February 25, 2012.

Antonio Nocerino gave the hosts an early lead and they looked to have doubled that advantage but Sulley Muntari’s strike was incorrectly ruled not to have crossed the line.

Juve were denied a clear goal of their own later in the game before Matri eventually netted to preserve the visitors’ undefeated record but there was uproar after the game over Muntari’s ‘ghost goal’.

Milan initially handled the controversy well but when they lost at Fiorentina, having already drawn at Catania the week before, Juventus moved to the summit of the standings and eventually romped to the title by amassing 31 points from their final 11 games.

In a fairytale finish to Alessandro Del Piero’s Bianconeri career, the iconic No.10 netted in their final outing, against Atalanta, before embarking upon a lap of honour while the game was still going on!

AWARDS

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

ANDREA PIRLO

Arguably the greatest free transfer in history, Milan reject Pirlo inspired Juventus to Scudetto success with 13 assists - more than anyone else in the league.

MANAGER OF THE SEASON

ANTONIO CONTE

There was no other possible victor, with Conte having stunned Serie A by leading Juventus to the title in his first season in charge.

TOP GOALSCORER

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC - 28 GOALS

The Swede may have failed to win the Scudetto for the first time in his career but he still netted 28 goals - four more than second-placed Diego Milito - to finish as Serie A’s Capocannoniere.

GOAL OF THE SEASON

Despite stiff competition from the likes of Juan Cuadrado, for his sensational solo effort, STEFANO MAURI takes top spot for his thumping scissors-kick in Lazio’s 3-1 victory over Napoli.

TEAM OF THE SEASON

BUFFON; MAGGIO, SILVA, BARZAGLI, BALZARETTI; PIRLO, NOCERINO, MARCHISIO; IBRAHIMOVIC, DI NATALE, CAVANI

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Barcelona to MILAN

€24m

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

While the officials also erred in denying Matri a goal before his equaliser, the decision to disallow Muntari’s strike was the more crucial mistake. Had the ‘ghost goal’ stood, it would have put Milan 2-0 up in a crunch clash with their title rivals.

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