One down, two to go. Juventus lifted their first trophy Wednesday evening, when they defeated Lazio 2-0 to win their third consecutive Coppa Italia trophy. It was a victory that was heavily celebrated, with the club, its squad and the many members of management reaping the rewards for a brilliant project that started more than six years ago.
A team built carefully, a dressing room famous for its harmonious atmosphere and a coach who must be recognised as one of the best in the world, Juventus believe in the Treble. It started with that win against Lazio and will continue Sunday evening when the Bianconeri host Crotone. Should they win, it will be two down and one to go.
Crotone have often been described as the newly promoted side predicted to go down. Lacking in audacious talent and the experience of navigating the tough matches within the top flight, few imagined that the side who had collected only 10 points from their opening 20 matches would have a chance of surviving.
Some 16 matches later, Davide Nicola's side are not only picking up points but also threatening both Genoa and Empoli ahead of them, and they could avoid relegation if they continue picking up points in their remaining two matches.
Nicola is the type of coach who reaffirms your faith in the game. A football romantic who refuses to surrender, he saw something in Crotone that no one else could see. Refusing to give up on his men and their potential, the coach's blind faith has proved infectious, and his men are playing with the type of belief that usually belongs in the upper echelons of football.
Collecting 17 points in their past seven matches, Crotone have gone undefeated since the start of April and are more excited than intimidated at the prospect of facing Juventus away from home. Relishing the prospect of providing the league leaders with a challenge in hopes of throwing a spanner in the works, Crotone are looking to cause a stir and could prove threatening.
Juve are quite possibly the best team in Europe at the moment, and when they play with determination and ambition, they cannot be stopped. However, after such a long season that has proved mentally and physically exhausting, the side has surrendered to mediocrity in the games they deem undeserving of their collective might.
Massimiliano Allegri has made himself clear. There is no more time to waste, and Juventus must absolutely win their last home match and allow themselves time to relax and celebrate before they must prepare for Real Madrid in the competition that means the most to them.
The coach is not taking any chances, and Sunday afternoon, all his best men will line up in hopes of wrapping up the Serie A title for a sixth consecutive season. Set to play their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, no star player will be rested, and offensive football will be the aim.
Leading the line will be Gonzalo Higuain, who has been voted season MVP by the fans. The striker has equalled both Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet's record of goals scored in a single season at Juventus. If Higuain manages to score five more, he will equal the all-time record set by Felice Borel, who managed 37 for the club in the 1933-34 season.
The striker has truly lived up to expectations and was worth the money spent by the club. He has not only scored the goals but also reinforced the winning mentality. Sacrificing himself for the side and striking up a beautiful partnership with Paulo Dybala, the Argentine has proved tactically intelligent and technically gifted.
Although his two goals against Monaco in the Champions League semifinals have helped the player shrug off the reputation of not scoring in big games, more is expected from him, especially when the time comes to face Real Madrid, his former side, in the UCL final.
A great addition to the squad, Higuain deserves the plaudits, but it's vital that another new addition is celebrated for the role he has played in pushing Juventus further toward their dream.
Dani Alves has been described as the best right-back in the game, and if the fans didn't believe that to be true at the start of the season, they certainly agree with that assessment now.
A player who is, remarkably, gunning for his third treble, Alves has produced the goods both on and off the pitch, helping the team believe in their abilities to compete and win against the best. While Barcelona and the press within the country wonder why the club let go of such an impactful player, Alves is spending his time delivering fine assists, producing passionate displays and scoring with great technique. A player who has won 27 of the 30 finals he has contested and is set to make history if he wins his third Treble, it was wrong to ever doubt him.
Alves might never be the strongest defender to have played the game, but no player has commanded the right flank with as much authority as he has managed in recent years. Although Higuain might be the star, Alves deserves a mention for the impact he has made in his first season in the Bianconeri jersey.
A victory against Crotone and the club can celebrate yet again. It's time to finish the season in style.