As the Giro d'Italia began this weekend with Mark Cavendish winning the first stage and then Bradley Wiggins's Team Sky taking the team time trial in their pursuit of the pink jersey, another long race came to an end when Juventus overcame Palermo to retain their Serie A title. A second-half penalty from midfielder Arturo Vidal, Juve's top scorer in the league and their best player this season, was enough to finish off their relegation-threatened opponents and start a party that wasn't even to be ruined by former Manchester United Paul Pogba's harsh-looking red card for a presumed spit at Palermo defender Salvatore Aronica. When referee Andrea Romeo blew the full-time whistle, Juventus coach Antonio Conte raised his hands in triumph, embraced his coaching staff, and then picked up his daughter, the aptly named Vittoria, before walking out onto the pitch. A huge Italian tricolour with the number 31 - the number of league titles the Turin-based side claim to have won despite two of them (2005 and 2006) being revoked after the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal - was unfurled in the centre-circle.
Juventus fans unfurled a massive banner after the Palermo game, marking their latest title It was a poignant moment for Conte.
Palermo were the team against whom he had marked his return earlier in the season from a suspension he strongly disputed for supposedly failing to report match-fixing while in his previous job at Siena. Banned from the touchline for four months, it was the hardest time of his life. By reclaiming the title in spite of all that and in front of these opponents he'd come full circle. The date, 5 May, was significant too.
Eleven years ago to the day, Conte was the captain of a Juventus team including current goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Pavel Nedved, who now sits on the club's board, that won the Scudetto on the final day of the season despite being six points behind Inter Milan with five games remaining. This, it must be said, wasn't quite as...
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