At the end of each season the team who have come first in the Italian Serie A League win the Scudetto, a symbol that was introduced in 1924 for the first time and, worn on the shirts the following season, indicates that the team are Italian Champions. They are also awarded the Italian Champions Cup, the official League trophy since the 1960 - 61 season, and they gain direct access to the Champions League algonside.
Won in the:
The summer of 2001 saw many arrivals. Juventus changed face, starting with their manager: Marcello Lippi returned, the man who had won everything, starting and ending a fantastic period for the club, between 1994 and 1998. Buffon, Thuram, Nedved and Salas were the most notable purchases. Zidane the biggest loss. It was a bright Juve that swept Venezia aside on the opening day of the season. Del Piero in fine form and David Trezeguet who had impressed towards the end of the previous season, could not be contained. Two goals each in a 4-0 victory. They did the same seven days later in Bergamo. Juve were in great shape, recovering to beat surprise package Chievo in the third game, on 15th September 2001, but then problems began to emerge.
Lecce forced a 0-0 draw in the fourth game, which was followed by Batistuta’s Roma side stealing all three points at the Delle Alpi on 29th September. Even a combative Toro side were allowed, in the derby, to fight back from 3-0 down to clinch a draw.
Juve faded slightly, this spell was overcome by showing strong determination (in Verona, on 4th November, recovering to clinch an unprecedented 2-2 draw in added time) and meanwhile they didn’t give up. They beat Parma at the Delle Alpi (3-1), then suffered a setback against Lazio at the Olympic Stadium (0-1) and the following week, the much awaited Pavel Nedved found his form, having not previously been firing on all cylinders. With the squad settled, Lippi demanded the pursuit of Inter, Roma, Chievo, Lazio and Bologna, who were ahead in the table. A furious chase then occurred: on 23rd December Brescia fell victim to Lippi’s wrath (4-0), followed by victories over Udinese, Venezia and Atalanta. After the 3-0 over Lecce, was the crunch away match at the Olympic stadium against Roma, in the fight for first place.
Down to ten men after the sending off of Davids, the Bianconeri managed to contain their hosts admirably and cling on to a vital draw. 9th March, another huge match: front-runners Inter went ahead through Seedorf, but then came the commanding Bianconeri revival, goals from Trezeguet and Tudor gave Juve the advantage. Again, the unrelenting Seedorf popped up to make it 2-2. The verdict would be delayed.
In March Juve would live to regret not having held on for victory against the Nerazzuri. Now the Bianconeri had lost their edge and the defeat against Parma, followed by the home draw against Lazio seemed by this time to condemn this Juventus side to a secondary role in their nervy final games against Inter and Roma. But it didn’t happen like that. On 7th April the Bianconeri showed they were ready for a battle against Perugia, overcoming them 4-0. Milan were next up on 14th April, and dropped three points to Juve side who were inspired by the slip ups of the Nerazzurri and the Giallorossi.
April 21st, the first turning point. Inter, who were three points ahead of the Bianconeri, couldn’t break down Chievo, whilst Juve beat Piacenza with a great goal from Nedved. One point, just one point. And Roma could also breathe again. The penultimate round passed without upset, with Juve winning over Brescia. A thrilling finale. The Nerazzurri were away in Rome against Lazio, the Bianconeri were to play Udine, and the third contender Roma were at the Delle Alpi against the already safe Granata. Juve started with vigour and sealed victory in the first quarter of an hour. Inter had some problems, recovered, went behind again and collapsed. Immense joy for the Bianconeri and Ronaldo’s tears: these are the images that will be remembered in the story of Juventus’ Scudetto number 26. Trezeguet was top of the pile with 24 goals, and Del Piero finished the season on 16.