Juventus 2018-19: Bianconeri join Europe's fastest title triumphs

By Sports Desk April 20, 2019

For the eighth year in a row Juventus are the champions of Serie A, but their latest triumph may be their most impressive yet.

The competition has been simply obliterated, with Juve beaten only twice in the league this season as Cristiano Ronaldo rested up at Genoa and SPAL.

Napoli, the closest of the other contenders, have been unable to match Juve's searing pace and, despite having six matches still to play, their title hopes are already over after a 2-1 comeback win over Fiorentina crowned Juve again.

Ronaldo's arrival from Real Madrid might not have delivered the intended results in the Champions League, but it appears to have inspired Juve to new heights domestically.

Eight straight Scudetti sets a new record in Europe's top-five leagues, outrstripping Lyon's seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles between 2001-02 and 2007-08, while no Serie A club has ever sealed the deal with more than Juve's five games remaining.

Omnisport takes a look at six of the fastest triumphs across the continent since the start of the 21st century, when league success has not necessarily coincided with European glory.

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bayern lead the way in the Bundesliga having claimed the 2013-14 title after just 27 matchdays. Pep Guardiola's first season in charge of the Bavarian giants was a roaring success, Bayern also claiming the DFB-Pokal, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup. Mario Mandzukic, now playing a key role for Juve, led the way with 18 Bundesliga goals and Bayern only lost twice in the top flight. A 5-0 aggregate thrashing by Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals marred their season, though.

Ligue 1: Paris Saint-Germain

There were still eight rounds of games to go when PSG won the Ligue 1 title in 2015-16 under Laurent Blanc. Indeed, they could have sealed the league even earlier having been unbeaten in their first 27 matches of the campaign before suffering a 2-1 loss away to Lyon at the end of February. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an amazing 50 goals in all competitions but there was European disappointment for PSG, too, after being edged out 3-2 on aggregate by Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. 

 

Premier League: Manchester United, Manchester City

Two clubs have won the Premier League with five games still to play this century: Manchester United and their rivals Manchester City. United cruised to glory in the 2000-01 season under Alex Ferguson, losing only twice before the end of March, although they ended the campaign limply with three consecutive defeats. United reached the last eight of the Champions League but found Bayern too strong.

City smashed a series of records in crushing the competition last term, as they also won the league with five games remaining - denied the outright Premier League best mark when United won a dramatic Manchester derby 3-2. Guardiola's City racked up 100 points, finished 19 clear of United and boasted a stunning goal difference of +79. There was more European disappointment for Guardiola, though, with a 3-0 loss at Anfield setting up a 5-1 aggregate defeat to Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals.

 

LaLiga: Barcelona

Guardiola's former club Barcelona are on track to win the league again this term, having had four games remaining when they secured the title under Ernesto Valverde last season. They sealed the double by collecting the Copa del Rey, demolishing Sevilla 5-0 in a marvellous display that marked Andres Iniesta's farewell. But Barca were on the wrong end of one of the great Champions League comebacks, contriving to exit at the quarter-final stage to Roma by losing 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, having won the first leg 4-1 at home.

Serie A: Inter

Prior to Juve's success this term, Inter's 2006-07 triumph under Roberto Mancini was out in front as the quickest Scudetto secured, with the Nerazzurri having five games in hand. Inter did not lose until mid-April, going down 3-1 at home to Roma in their only league defeat of the season. They also reached the final of the Coppa Italia, again losing to Roma after a stunning 6-2 first-leg defeat. As is the case with all the other record-holders mentioned above, Inter underperformed in Europe, with Valencia knocking them out of the Champions League in the round of 16.

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    Matthijs de Ligt denied Cristiano Ronaldo convinced him to join Juventus but cited Maurizio Sarri as an important factor in his €85.5million move.

    Netherlands defender De Ligt spoke to the media and was presented with the number four shirt on Friday, 24 hours after completing a high-profile transfer from Ajax.

    The 19-year-old attracted interest from Barcelona, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain but confirmed his heart was already set on Juve by the time he crossed with paths with Ronaldo in Portugal last month.

    They locked horns in the Nations League final, during which the Bianconeri superstar told centre-back De Ligt to choose Turin as his next destination.

    "At that moment I was pretty sure it was Juventus but obviously it was nice that someone big like Cristiano Ronaldo asked me if I wanted to join," De Ligt said.

    "It was a big compliment but it was not the difference between me joining and not joining."

    Rather, De Ligt's interest in a switch to Serie A stemmed from his deep-rooted admiration of Italian defenders, including former Juve man and World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro.

    Sarri's tactical approach runs counter to many of the country's established ideals but proved every bit as enticing for De Ligt, a player educated in possession football at Ajax.

    "I spoke to him on the phone really briefly just to get to know each other," the ex-Ajax captain said.

    "He's one of the reasons I wanted to come to Juventus because I heard a lot of good stories about him, the way he plays, the philosophy he has - attacking football - the defending line and how he prepares them.

    "Obviously there was a big reason to come here."

    Already considered one of Europe's finest in his position, the teenager is now seeking to accelerate his already advanced development as part of a star-studded dressing room.

    "Ajax was a younger environment and here I hope that I can learn from great champions like [Giorgio] Chiellini, Gianluigi Buffon, Cristiano and many others," he said.

  • Lukaku out of Inter clash as Solskjaer backs 'world class' Martial Lukaku out of Inter clash as Solskjaer backs 'world class' Martial

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    Serie A side Inter have identified the Belgium international as a suitable replacement for the unwanted Mauro Icardi, but will reportedly have to pay around £75million to prise him from Old Trafford.

    United are yet to provide specific details about the nature of Lukaku's fitness problem, which has been described as minor.

    "He is not fit, so he won't be available, no," Solskjaer said ahead of the International Champions Cup clash.

    Asked about Lukaku's transfer situation, the Norwegian responded: "I don't have any updates from the last time."

    Lukaku's ongoing absence has allowed Anthony Martial to stake a claim for a starting place in attack.

    The France international scored from the spot in the 4-0 friendly victory over Leeds United in Perth and Solskjaer remains a keen admirer of the 23-year-old despite his struggles to completely convince in the Premier League.

    "Anthony can be a world-class forward," the United manager said.

    "I think if you have followed Anthony, the way he has come back to pre-season, his attitude is spot on.

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    Star goalkeeper David de Gea and left-back Luke Shaw have been cleared to feature against Inter after sitting out the Leeds match.

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    Bayern are on the lookout for wide players to fill the sizeable void left by Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben with Sane top of their wishlist.

    Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and coach Niko Kovac have been vocal in their admiration of the 23-year-old with the former even suggesting the Bundesliga champions are "ready" to make a move should the player express a wish to leave the Etihad Stadium.

    Guardiola, speaking ahead of the Asia Trophy clash with Wolves, hinted at dissatisfaction with his former club's public pursuit and outlined his desire to keep Sane in the Premier League.

    He told reporters in Shanghai: "For a long time they talk about their interest, but Leroy is our player and hopefully he can stay next season and next season and next season."

    Pushed on if he had spoken to anyone at Bayern, Guardiola replied: "No."

    City have been relatively quiet in the transfer window so far, with the signing of defensive midfielder Rodri from Atletico Madrid their only major acquisition.

    Guardiola said: "We are so happy with the squad we have. I don't know if the players here will stay or if new players will come. But I am delighted with the players we have."

    City have been linked with Leicester City's Harry Maguire although it seems Manchester United now lead the race for the England international. Guardiola suggested central defence was an area he was considering strengthening but had options in his squad should a move not materialise.

    "There's a chance [of a defender coming in] but I don't know if it will be possible. We [already] have three incredible central defenders and Fernandinho can play in that position," he said.

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