Conte’s Juventus retain title with ease ahead of Napoli - Serie A in 2012/13

 
12:44pm on Friday 10th April 2020
By
Martin Macdonald

Juventus were unable to follow up their unbeaten 2011-12 campaign with another flawless season but they won the title in far more straightforward fashion. Indeed, while Antonio Conte’s side lost five times, they actually racked up three more points (87) than the year before and finished nine clear of Napoli.

The Partenopei were fuelled by the goals of capocannoniere Edinson Cavani but while the Bianconeri had no such prolific forward - Arturo Vidal and Mirko Vucinic were the only Juve players to get into double figures in Serie A (both 10) - they still scored freely, while their brilliant back-line of Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini once again proved solid as a rock.

The midfield, meanwhile, was strengthened by the arrival of Kwadwo Asamoah and one Paul Pogba, a free transfer from Manchester United who adapted quicker to Italian football than anyone in Turin could have envisaged.

CHANGES

Juventus didn't just take Asamoah from Udinese, they also signed Mauricio Isla, as well as picking up Lucio on a free transfer from Inter.

Elsewhere, several top sides continued to struggle financially, with Napoli and Lazio making very few deals. The Partenopei’s parsimony was particularly surprising given they had sold Ezequiel Lavezzi to Paris Saint-Germain for €26.5m.

The French side also rocked Serie A to its very core by signing AC Milan's two best players, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, thus ending any hope the Rossoneri had of challenging for the title before the season had even begun.

Cristian Zapata did not prove an adequate replacement for Silva, while Giampaolo Pazzini and Bojan Krkic failed to fill the void left by Ibra up front.

Riccardo Montolivo and Nigel de Jong did strengthen the midfield, though, and the January acquisition of Mario Balotelli from Manchester City transformed Milan's season.

Elsewhere, Inter overhauled their squad, bringing in the likes of Samir Handanovic, Antonio Cassano, Walter Gargano and Rodrigo Palacio, while Roma gave returning coach Zdenek Zeman an expensive new striker in the shape of Mattia Destro (€16m) following Fabio Borini's departure for Liverpool.

SEASON SUMMARY

Juventus began the season in ominously impressive fashion, racking up 28 points of a possible 30, an unbeaten 10-match run which included a 2-0 victory over Napoli. However, the Bianconeri were beaten for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign when they were upset 3-1 in Turin by a Diego Milito-inspired Inter.

At that stage, the Nerazzurri looked like genuine title contenders. However, they immediately capitulated, failing to win any of their next three games and their season fell apart. Inter eventually finished ninth - their worst placing since 1993-94 - after losing seven their final nine matches and Andrea Stramaccioni was sacked, replaced at the helm by Walter Mazzarri.

The San Siro switch was Mazzarri’s reward for having led Napoli to a second-placed finish. The Partenopei had even threatened to win a first Scudetto since 1990 when they took advantage of Juve’s poor run of results in January - one win in four games - to draw to within six points.

Serie A Player of the Year, Andrea Pirlo

However, Napoli were held to a 1-1 draw at home to the Old Lady at the start of March and the relieved Bianconeri then reeled off eight wins in a row - which included victories over Inter, Lazio, Milan and Torino - as they sealed a second successive Scudetto with three rounds remaining.

Still, there was deadline-day drama thanks to Milan and Fiorentina, who had gone into the last round level on points in the battle for third place - and the Champions League berth that came with it.

However, despite triumphing 5-1 at Pescara, the Viola missed out after the Rossoneri scraped a 2-1 victory at Siena with two goals in the final six minutes through Balotelli and Philippe Mexes.

Fiorentina felt hard done by but Champions League football was perhaps just reward for Milan, who lost just one game - to Juve - after the wInter break.

AWARDS

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

ANDREA PIRLO

Just like Juventus, the veteran midfielder retained his title after treating the watching world to another exhibition in the art of playmaking.

MANAGER OF THE SEASON

ANTONIO CONTE

The Juventus boss was once again the obvious choice for coach of the year, having proven that his first Scudetto success was no fluke.

TOP GOALSCORER

EDINSON CAVANI - 29 GOALS

The Uruguay striker enjoyed a sensational final season at the San Paolo, hitting 29 goals before his €64m move to Paris Saint-Germain.

GOAL OF THE SEASON

Josip Ilicic scored a stunning solo goal for Palermo at Sampdoria but the strike that really took the breath away was PANAGIOTIS KONE’S outrageous scissors-kick for Bologna at Napoli.

TEAM OF THE SEASON

HANDANOVIC; MAGGIO, BARZAGLI, CHIELLINI, DE SCIGLIO; PIRLO, VIDAL, VALERO, BALOTELLI, DI NATALE, CAVANI

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

Mattia Destro

Siena to Roma

€16m

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

Given the title race had long since become a procession for Juventus, the most significant moment of the season came at Siena, when referee Mauro Bergonzi awarded Milan a penalty for an alleged foul on Mario Balotelli by Felipe. The striker converted the spot-kick, sparking a remarkable Rossoneri fightback, but Fiorentina cried conspiracy, with sporting director Daniele Prade claiming: “The story had already been written…”

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