Turin, Dec 21 (IANS) Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio has reflected on a very successful year for the Italian football giants who won the Serie A and Coppa Italia titles, while finishing runners-up in the European Champions League and are again strongly in the title race for the domestic top-flight league. Juventus won the Serie A for the fourth time on the trot and overall 31 times and also captured the Coppa Italia for the 10th time. Massimiliano Allegri’s men’s impressive Europe campaign only saw them fall in the final hurdle against Spain’s indomitable powerhouse FC Barcelona. After the season, the club witnessed several personnel changes and their start in the Serie A suffered by the departures of three key personnel — playmaker Andrea Pirlo, attacking midfielder Chilean Arturo Vidal and Argentine striker Carlos Tevez. World Cup 2006 winner with Italy and former AC Milan star Pirlo, 36, is now playing for Major League Soccer (MLS) side New York City FC, while former Manchester City and United marksman Tevez, 31, left for his childhood club Boca Juniors. Vidal, 28, went to German heavyweights Bayern Munich on a 36 million euros ($40.73 million) four-year deal.
Forward Mario Mandzukic (Atletico Madrid) and midfielders Hernanes (Inter Milan), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid) and Paulo Dybala (Palermo) were the big signings for Juventus this season. But they took time to settle down and it reflected in the side’s performance. In the first 10 matches, they were lying at the 12th spot with four losses and three draws. But they turned it around to finish the year at the fourth spot riding on a seven-match winning streak. They are only three points behind leaders Inter Milan after 17 matches. The Gianluigi Buffon-captained side also reached the Champions League pre-quarterfinals after finishing in the group. “From winning two trophies and reaching the Champions League final in the first six months, to our current run of form that sees us fighting strongly on all three fronts, it’s been a great year all round,” Marchisio told juventus.com on Sunday. Marchisio had a very simple answer to the reasons behind the team’s rapid rise up the table following a tough start to the season: hard work. “Arriving at a club that has won four league titles in a row may seem easy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” the 29-year-old said. “There were plenty of new players who needed time to settle in, there were also injuries, but we’ve worked tirelessly as a group to get where we are. Now we need to continue in this vein in order to achieve our goals in the New Year,” the Italy international added.