Football

Juventus 2011-12 or Chelsea 2016-17: Comparing Antonio Conte’s first seasons

Antonio Conte became the fifth Italian to manage Chelsea when he arrived at Stamford Bridge last summer, with much being made of the 46-year-old's fine coaching record in his homeland. The former Italy manager led Juventus to three successive Serie A titles between 2011 and 2014, and we take a look at how his first season at Juventus compares to his current campaign at Chelsea.

 

Juventus 2011-12 (P-38 W-23 D-15 L-0)

After back to back 7th place finishes, Juventus turned for reJUVEnation to one of their own as they appointed their former midfielder to restore their old glory and make them perennial winners again and Antonio Conte obliged perfectly, leading the Old Lady to their first league title in 8 years. Juve went the whole season unbeaten in Conte’s first season in charge although, just like Chelsea, they didn’t have any European competition to contend with.

Conte equaled Fabio Capello's run of 28 unbeaten games between November 2005 and May 2006 and he also became the first coach to lead Juventus to a Coppa Italia final since Marcello Lippi.

The team's strong and highly organized three-man backline comprising of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli, was regarded to have played a large part in the title triumph, and only conceded 20 goals, finishing the League with the best defence in Italy. Juventus finished the season with a win percentage of 60.52% in the league.

 

Juventus head coach Antonio Conte (C) and players during the Serie A match between Juventus and Cagliari.

 

No-one symbolized the rebirth of the Old Lady more emphatically than Pirlo, who had managed just 17 league appearances the previous year as the Milan side where he had made his name took the Scudetto. Conte pounced to acquire a player who some believed was way past his prime, much like he has with David Luiz on the Brazilian's return to Stamford Bridge.

Conte’s tactics evolved over the early weeks of his tenure into a 4-3-3 formation which allowed Vidal and Claudio Marchisio to flank Pirlo and protect the brilliant playmaker. Later he adopted the 3-5-2 which became so central to their success, a shift which made logical sense and brought the best from his squad.

 

Chelsea 2016-17 (P-27 W-21 D-3 L-3)

This season of the Premier League created more buzz due to incoming managers rather than the players. The much-awaited arrival of Pep Guardiola at City, Mourinho taking the hot seat at Old Trafford and Klopp getting his first full season at Merseyside, the league was labeled as a battle between these 3 highly successful managers. Antonio Conte was merely handed the task of steadying the ship at the Bridge and getting Chelsea back into the Champions League. But as Buffon rightly proclaimed about his former coach: “Conte doesn’t do second place”. Since then, Conte has miraculously turned Chelsea into title favourites who now sit 10 points clear at the top of the table.

Chelsea equaled Arsenal’s Premier League record of 13 wins in a row in a single season from October to December which saw their manager win 3 straight Manager of the Month awards.

Like at Juventus, Chelsea’s amazing season is also based on a strong back 3 in the 3-4-3 formation employed by Conte. Cahill, Luiz and Azpilicueta have combined alongside Courtois to produce 13 clean sheets. Diego Costa has been Conte’s talisman even though he has gotten into a bit of trouble with the manager lately. The formation has also given the likes of Hazard and Pedro to play with more freedom and the two wingers have flourished by playing closer to Costa. Chelsea have an incredibly high win percentage of 77.7% in the league and look set to bring the PL trophy back to London if they continue to perform with such consistency.

 

 

Conte: "I can't compare my first season with Juventus with this because there are many differences. The value of the players is not the same. The talent that there is now in our team, in Chelsea, for sure is more than Juventus in my first season. But, also, we must understand that you don't win just with talent. With talent, you must add running, intensity, sacrifice, wanting to win the ball when you lose it… all of this.”

Conte surely has added all these qualities into his squad but most importantly, he has turned his team into a band of brothers who are enjoying their football again and are ready to go all out to fight the war on the pitch for the fans, the crest and their manager.

 

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