Juventus forward Simone Padoin has fired a warning to their rivals as the champions bring their Serie A season to an end against Sampdoria on Saturday.
The Old Lady clinched a fifth successive Scudetto after a remarkable run in which they won 25 out of 26 matches, a sequence which ended with a 2-1 reverse to relegated Verona last week.
A win in the Coppa Italia final against AC Milan next week would give Juve a domestic double for the second year running, while they have already begun to lay the groundwork for next season, with head coach Massimiliano Allegri and veterans Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Barzagli all signing new contracts.
And Padoin, who has been involved in all five of those Serie A title triumphs since 2012, says the strive to improve upon success year on year is what sets his side apart from their competitors.
“After the defeat to Sassuolo in October we looked ourselves in the mirror and realised that we had to fight for the right to be considered Scudetto contenders. From that moment, everything changed,” he told the club’s website.
“Knowing the club as well as I do now, all I can say is that this success is richly deserved. Everyone at this club wants to win. But however successful our present is, we are always looking to get one step ahead of the game and plan for the future.”
While the home side are poised for a party at Juventus Stadium, 2015-16 is a season which Sampdoria will be glad to see the back of.
Just two wins in their last nine and a crushing 3-0 defeat by rivals Genoa last week have left Vincenzo Montella’s side in 15th place, just five points off the bottom three ahead of Saturday’s game.
Samp sporting director Carlo Osti blasted the defeat as “shameful” and apologised to supporters, some of whom staged a protest against Montella – who has been heavily linked with the Italy job – and owner Massimo Ferrero following a dismal season.
“The fault is totally mine,” Montella, who later denied he had asked to be sacked, said after the game. “The coach can take credit that’s not due sometimes, and the blame when it wasn’t his fault.
“When an entire season isn’t up to scratch, there are some errors in the squad, but I think in this match the players did what they could and I am the only one to blame.”
Juve, unbeaten in their last five league games with Samp, will likely rest a number of players ahead of the Coppa final. Martin Caceres (Achilles) and Claudio Marchisio (knee) are long-term absentees, while Sami Khedira (calf) is unlikely to be risked.
David Ivan (thigh) is a doubt for the visitors, while Carlos Carbonero and Niklas Moisander are still short of full fitness. Antonio Cassano may also miss out after a reported bust-up with a club official.
Key Opta Stats:
– Sampdoria have won only one of their last eight trips to Juventus’ ground in Serie A (D4 L3), in January 2013.
– Juventus have won all of their last 15 Serie A matches on home soil and they have not conceded any goals in their last 10 home games.
– The Bianconeri are only one game away from equalling the record for clean sheets in a single Serie A campaign (22, held by AC Milan in 1993-94 and Juventus in 2013-14).
– Among coaches with 25+ appearances in the current Serie A, only Roberto Stellone (0.84) has averaged a lower points per game rate than Vincenzo Montella (0.96).
– Massimiliano Allegri has averaged a 2.33 points per game rate and a 72 per cent win percentage over the course of his two Serie A campaigns at Juventus, better than Antonio Conte’s figures in his first two seasons with the Bianconeri (2.25 points per game, 66 per cent).