Allegri rallies Juve to complete season treble

TURIN • Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri called on the Italian giants to complete a historic treble in the Champions League final after they secured a third successive league and Cup double on Sunday.

"This season was much different to last season. Now, we have the dream of the Champions League final, which you don't get to play every year," Allegri said after a 3-0 win over Crotone wrapped up a sixth straight Serie A title.

"It's our second final in three years, so we have to congratulate everyone at the club. I'm happy to coach here, and we'll soon sit down to talk about some ideas. But right now, the most important thing is to play, and win, the final in Cardiff (against Real Madrid)."

First-half goals from Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala and a late header from Alex Sandro sealed a comfortable victory to leave Juve four points clear of Roma with one game to play.

Crotone were never likely to deny Juventus their title celebrations that were put on hold last week when Roma stunned Allegri's men 3-1 at the Stadio Olimpico.

Juve bounced back from their defeat in the capital three days later with a 2-0 Italian Cup final victory over Lazio. Now, for the sixth season running, Juve are Serie A champions. No team in Italy, England, Spain or Germany has won so many consecutive domestic titles before.

Allegri can be a barrel of contradictions at times, a man who released his own tactics app and yet loves to tell journalists that formations are unimportant. But there is no escaping the fact that his mid-season shift to a hybrid 4-2-3-1 was a turning point.

Many were sceptical of his vision to get Gonzalo Higuain, Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado and Miralem Pjanic into the same starting XI, seeing no way to do so without losing balance.

Allegri pulled it off by adapting Mandzukic into a new role on the left wing and drawing Pjanic back to a position in front of the defence. His team won the next 10 games, and the "five-star Juve" was born.

Whether the Italian, who tailors his teams to each opponent, will stick with that system for the final against Real remains to be seen.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2017, with the headline 'Allegri rallies Juve to complete season treble'. Print Edition | Subscribe