The achievements of the current Juventus team are enough to put them into the mix with some of the finest Italian sides of all time. Having won a record-breaking sixth successive Serie A title, as well as a third consecutive league and cup double, the Bianconeri could move higher up the pantheon of greats by beating Real Madrid in the upcoming Champions League final.
Massimiliano Allegri has built on the work laid down before him by Antonio Conte to create a team who have not only dominated domestically, but have competed consistently on the continent with Europe’s best.
However, for all their trophies, this Juventus are by no means the greatest Italian side of all time. Here, we looks at the seven teams from calcio history who remain – albeit only for the time being – ahead of them in terms of achievement, legacy and style.
Juventus 1994 – 2003
Marcello Lippi’s appointment as Juventus head coach in 1994 led to the rejuvenation of a fading giant. The Bianconeri hadn’t won the league for eight years prior to the legendary Italian manager’s arrival, but the cigar-smoking tactician would return them to the top of the domestic game in style, winning five league titles over two separate spells.
During the first spell, Juve also reached three consecutive Champions League finals, lifting the trophy in 1996 with a win over Louis van Gaal’s Ajax. Perhaps Lippi’s greatest tactical accomplishment was getting a front three of Alessandro Del Piero, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Gianluca Vialli to work effectively, balancing them out with a relentlessly tough midfield featuring Conte and Didier Deschamps.
Inter Milan 2005 – 2011
After the Calciopoli scandal, Inter Milan took advantage of their decimated rivals – including a Juventus side stuck in Serie B – to dominate the Italian football landscape. Initially led by Roberto Mancini, they won three straight Scudetti, two Italian Cups and two Italian Super Cups before José Mourinho took them to continental success.
The Portuguese fostered a resolute team spirit and dogged defensive discipline to lead a team featuring Lúcio, Javier Zanetti, Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o beyond his old club Chelsea, and fierce rivals Barcelona, to the 2010 Champions League final, where they defeated Bayern Munich courtesy of a Diego Milito double.
Torino 1942 – 1949
There is a mythical air about the Grande Torino of the 1940s, primarily because the team’s run came to an end not through natural decline or the departure of key players, but due to a tragic plane crash. The Superga air disaster of May 4, 1949 took most of this exceptional group, among them legendary captain and playmaker Valentino Mazzola.
Yet, in their all-too-brief time together, this Toro side achieved a dominance few have matched since, and did so playing an innovative, attacking game. In a seven-year spell they won five league titles and one Coppa Italia, ensuring their place in Italian football history.
AC Milan 1961 – 1969
In the 1960s, Italian football was both revered and reviled. While the country’s best teams were the best on the continent, the way in which their lofty status was preserved was not appealing to all neutrals. And the renowned Catenaccio tactic that focused so heavily on organised defence and cunning counter-attacking was arguably perfected by Nereo Rocco’s AC Milan.
This great Rossoneri outfit won two European Cups – one in 1963; one in 1969 – and also tussled for Serie A titles consistently, winning two of their own. And, contrary to widespread belief at the time and since, with the luxurious playmaking of Gianni Rivera and scoring finesse of Pierino Prati, Rocco’s side weren’t dull to watch.
Inter Milan 1960 – 1968
The early 1960s were an important period for Inter Milan. During this time, Helenio Herrera was appointed manager, and Luis Suárez (no, not that Luis Suárez), was brought in from Barcelona. The results were spectacular, with the coach and the player forming the building blocks of a game-changing team.
Tactically forward-thinking, Herrera brought in a rough 5-3-2 shape that incorporated arguably the first-ever ‘modern’ full-back in Giacinto Facchetti. This, along with the cutting pace of Jair, and the artistry or Mario Corso and Sandro Mazzola, led the Nerazzurri to three Serie A titles and two European Cup wins.
Juventus 1976 – 1986
Juventus had already won three league titles in the early 1970s prior to Giovanni Trapattoni’s appointment as head coach, but the Italian – who went on to manage Bayern Munich, among others – took the club to another level after his arrival in 1976.
With classy playmaking sweeper Gaetano Scirea and dynamic midfielder Marco Tardelli already there, Trap would add the likes of Michel Platini, Antonio Cabrini and Paolo Rossi before leading Juve to six Serie A successes, one Coppa Italia, and their first European Cup win.
AC Milan 1987 – 1996
In the late 1980s and early-to-mid-1990s, Milan were unquestionably the best side in Europe. Indeed, such was the scale of their accomplishments, and the importance of the legacy they left, they would be in the argument for the greatest club side of any era.
Arrigo Sacchi kick-started things, taking the club to successive European Cup victories. No other team has repeated this feat since. And, when Sacchi moved on, Fabio Capello maximised a teak-tough backline that included Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini to conjure up a machine-like XI that won four league titles in five years, including one unbeaten campaign.
However, this team’s moment came in the 1994 Champions League final. Up against Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona ‘Dream Team’, Capello’s men steamrollered their esteemed opposition, winning 4-0 thanks to a double from Daniele Massaro, a wonder strike from Dejan Savićević, and one from future Chelsea legend Marcel Desailly.