Juventus
    Juventus
      31.12.2016 09:30 - in: The team S

      2016 Review: New season, same domestic dominance

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      Part five of our 2016 review: a fresh Serie A through to the end of the calendar year, which finishes with Juve sitting top of the pile once again...

      The 2016/17 season kicked off on 20 August with the Bianconeri picking up from exactly where they left off – with a victory at Juventus Stadium.

      Fiorentina provided the opposition for our Serie A curtain-raiser and who could have scripted a better debut for marquee summer signing Gonzalo Higuain?

      After Mario Mandukic had opened the scoring and Nikola Kalinic equalised, our new Argentine striker entered the stage and plundered the winner just moments after coming off the bench.

      The following week Sami Khedira settled a tricky encounter away to Lazio, his cool second-half finish enough to secure all three points.

      Our first September fixture saw us entertain Sassuolo. El Pipita continued his explosive start to life in the black-and-white jersey by notching himself a brace inside the first 10 minutes, Miralem Pjanic then netting a debut goal of his own in a 3-1 success.

      While Juve continued to maintain a perfect home record in 2016, it was on the road, at the Stadio San Siro, where we would suffer our first – and indeed second – defeat of the season.

      On 18 September Inter came from behind to snatch the points following Stephan Lichtsteiner's opener. Just over a month later, on 22 October, a wonder strike from Manuel Locatelli was enough for the Rossoneri to emerge victorious.

      Aside from that double defeat in Milan and a 3-1 reverse at Genoa in late November, Juve have knocked out nothing but wins in Serie A this term – not a single draw in sight.

      After slipping up against Inter, the Bianconeri bounced straight back by crushing Cagliari 4-0 on 21 September, with Daniele Rugani, Higuain and Dani Alves all netting, along with a Luca Ceppitelli own goal.

      Four days later another own goal – this time by Edoardo Goldaniga – was enough to seal a 1-0 win at Palermo.

      October began with a visit to Empoli, where three goals in five second-half minutes by Paulo Dybala and Higuain (two) put the hosts to the sword.

      Following the international break we edged out Udinese 2-1 in Turin, with Dybala adding two more to his personal tally.

      Comment if you love @paulodybala... #FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve #InstaJuve #JuveUdinese 2-1!!

      A photo posted by Juventus Football Club (@juventus) on

      Having lost to AC Milan, we rounded off the month with a Serie A double-header at Juventus Stadium.

      On 26 October Giorgio Chiellini scored a rare brace as we beat Sampdoria 4-1, Pjanic and Mandzukic the other names on the score sheet.

      Then came one of the biggest matches of the season, against fellow title hopefuls Napoli. Cometh the hour cometh the man, so they say. And after Leo Bonucci and Jose Callejon had cancelled each other out, Higuain stepped up to grab the winner against his former club.

      It was not the first, nor would it be the last, decisive goal El Pipita has scored this season.

      November began with two further victories, 2-1 against Chievo in Verona on the 6th (Mandzukic and Pjanic) and 3-0 on home turf against Pescara on the 19th (Khedira, Mandzukic, Hernanes), before that blip in Genoa.

      The final month of 2016 reserved a testing trio of fixtures for Massimiliano Allegri's side in the shape of high-flying Atalanta, Torino and second-placed Roma.

      As it turned out, Atalanta's nine-game unbeaten run came to an end at Juventus Stadium as Alex Sandro, Rugani and Mandzukic netted in a 3-1 triumph on 3 December.

      Next up was the Derby della Mole and our cross-town rivals went at it hammer and tongs. Andrea Belotti gave the hosts early hope but Higuain levelled matters before the break and completed the turnaround in the 82nd minute, before Pjanic wrapped up the scoring in injury time.

      Our last league outing of 2016 saw Luciano Spalletti's Giallorossi visit Turin for an all-important six-pointer on 17 December. Our rivals arrived with aspirations of overtaking Juve, who started four points ahead but had a match less to play before Christmas due to our Italian Super Cup commitments.

      Indeed it proved to be a tight contest but once again that man Higuain was the difference. After picking Daniele De Rossi's pocket, he side-stepped a challenge by Kostas Manolas and smashed a thunderbolt past Wojciech Szczesny. Cue wild scenes among the Bianconeri faithful...

      While the rest of Serie A played out their Week 18 fixtures, Juventus and AC Milan flew to Doha for the Italian Super Cup. Sadly, we came back empty-handed as Giacomo Bonaventura responded to Chiellini's opener and the Rossoneri went on to clinch the trophy in a penalty shootout.

      Disappointing as it was to end the year on the wrong end of defeat, as Chiellini said after the game, it will only fire up the Bianconeri to go on another great run in 2017!

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