ROME, Italy, May 14 – Juventus won their 34th Serie A title and seventh in succession on Sunday with one game left this season. Here, AFP Sport looks at five key players behind their latest league triumph:
Evergreen goalkeeper Buffon once again proved to be the lynchpin in Juventus’s title defence claiming his ninth Serie A crown with the club at the age of 40 years.
It was a rollercoaster season for the skipper who was sidelined by injury but came back to set a new Serie A record for minutes without conceding a goal in March.
Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny proved a reliable replacement during Buffon’s layoff and stood in again during Sunday’s goalless draw against Roma which sealed the title as Buffon was rested.
If Buffon retires at the end of this campaign he will miss out on overtaking AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini’s record of 647 appearances.
But he would go out on a high after an excellent performance in the Italian Cup final win over AC Milan despite regrets for again missing out on the Champions League title.
Ex-Bayern Munich winger Costa came into his own at his new club after a difficult start to the season.
The 27-year-old initially moved to Turin on loan with an option to buy in a record 46 million euro deal for the German club last summer.
And it paid off as he stepped up during a tricky time for the champions with injuries to top players including Federico Bernardeschi, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala and scored four goals and made 12 assists.
“He is one of those players who can make the difference and break a game open,” said coach Massimiliano Allegri of Costa who adds to his two Bundesliga titles with Bayern and five with Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk.
Dybala, 24, got off to an incredible start with a record-setting 10 goals in six Serie A games in a campaign which swung between brilliance and inconsistency.
Dybala scored 22 goals this season including the last-gasp goal against Lazio allowing Juventus to take the lead in March.
The 31-year-old Argentina forward proved a star performer for Juventus despite criticism when he went through a period without scoring.
The former Real Madrid player arrived for a club-record 90 million euros from Napoli two years ago, and has scored 55 goals in two seasons including 16 in Serie A this season including the winner in the last-gasp 3-2 win against Inter Milan which ended Napoli’s title hopes.
Moroccan centre-back Benatia had the difficult job of filling in after Leonardo Bonucci’s departure for AC Milan and proved a key player with Giorgio Chiellini often injured and Andrea Barzagli on the downhill slope.
The former Bayern Munich player was beaten by Kalidou Koulibaly during the 1-0 loss to Napoli in Turin and was also at the heart of the penalty conceded in the Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.
But he finished the season on a high with a double in the Cup final.