The month of December began with the Bianconeri’s run of six consecutive wins in all competitions coming to an end, as Fiorentina ground out a goalless draw in an intense but unspectacular encounter at the Artemio Franchi.
Clear-cut chances were in short supply for both sides on a night where defences came out on top on a slippery pitch. A gritty first half gave way to a more free-flowing second period but aside from Patrice Evra’s shot, parried away by Neto, and Juan Cuadrado’s piledriver, pushed clear by Gigi Buffon, there was little of note to mention in the final third as both sides settled for a share of the spoils.
The final outcome, a “fair result” in the eyes of Massimiliano Allegri, took the Bianconeri four points clear of Roma, a lead that would be only be trimmed by one the next evening as the Giallorossi were held at home by Sassuolo.
Next up was a midweek Champions League Group A showdown against Atletico Madrid, in which qualification for the competition’s last 16 was firmly at stake.
Already guaranteed a place in the knockout stages, Atletico Madrid knew a draw would be enough to see them through as group winners, while Juventus, in second place and three points ahead of Olympiacos, could pip them to top post with a victory by a two-goal margin.
Plenty of endeavour was on display during a typically electric European night at Juventus Stadium but there were few goalscoring chances to show for it, with the game eventually fizzling out into a goalless draw that ultimately suited both sides.
Speaking after Matchday Six, Paul Pogba challenged Juventus to keep on aiming high: “We played with a lot of personality against a great side who reached the final last season. We know this team can go far but we need to give even more because the games aren’t going to be easy.”
Six days later, the Bianconeri rediscovered their goalscoring touch on their return to Juventus Stadium, although a December win continued to elude them as Sampdoria battled back from behind to leave Turin with a point.
A whirlwind start to the game saw the hosts set about their opponents from the very first whistle and their industry was rewarded when Evra opened the scoring on 12 minutes, leaping to plant Claudio Marchisio’s corner beyond Sergio Romero for his first goal in the black and white stripes.
Outplayed for the first 30 minutes, the Blucerchiati profited from Sinisa Mihajlovic’s tactical tweaks to steady the ship before then pulling themselves level five minutes after the restart through Manolo Gabbiadini’s well-placed strike.
At the end of the fixture, goalscorer Evra reflected on a bittersweet afternoon: “My goal would have been more important had we got the win today. I’m happy to have scored, but also disappointed by the result because the match was ours for the taking in the first half. If we’d scored two goals before the break that could’ve been it.”
Evra had to wait just four more days for that winning feeling to return, though, as Juventus guaranteed their Serie A supremacy heading into 2015 with a 3-1 away victory over Cagliari.
Carlos Tevez opened the scoring with just 180 seconds on the clock, sweeping over the line following a scramble in the box. The lead was doubled 12 minutes later when Arturo Vidal curled home a fine first-time strike from 25 yards, leaving Fernando Llorente to put the icing on the cake five minutes into the second half courtesy of a decent effort on the turn.
The hosts’ never-say-die attitude was rewarded when Luca Rossettini headed Andrea Cossu’s set-piece beyond Buffon midway through the second half, but the Bianconeri held on to claim a deserved three points.
Following the final whistle in Sardinia, Allegri was quick to heap praise on his players: “I'm very lucky to have a group of lads with an insatiable appetite for success. They want to go on taking the plaudits by winning a fourth straight Scudetto and do well in the Champions League too. I have a great deal of confidence in this team."
A haul of 95 points throughout the calendar year ensured the Bianconeri would sign off a happy 2014 as they began it – top of the pile.