Juventus have endured a more turbulent year than most clubs yet there ought to be some spring back in the step of the Old Lady when they face Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Over the last few days, the most successful team in the history of Italian football have recorded significant victories off the field as well as on it.
Chairman Andrea Agnelli, one of the architects of the failed European Super League breakaway attempt, learned this week that he and his fellow rebels had forced Uefa into a major climbdown.
The governing body declared its disciplinary proceedings against Juve, Real Madrid and Barcelona null and void in response to a ruling from a Spanish commercial court.
While that legal battle is still in its opening skirmishes, it removed any imminent threat of the European Super League ringleaders being kicked out of the Champions League.
On the pitch at the Allianz Stadium, meanwhile, fortunes have also taken a much-needed turn for the better in recent weeks.
Juventus recorded back-to-back league victories for the first time this season on Sunday, when they won by the odd goal in five against Sampdoria.
It followed another 3-2 win over Spezia in midweek as Massimiliano Allegri fights to turn around a poor start to his second spell as manager, which gleaned just two points from the first four Serie A fixtures.
Juventus and the end of a decade dominating Italian football
Juventus are not used to hardship, at least not in their recent history.
The team in black and white may have a colourful past but they have utterly dominated the last decade of Italian football, winning nine successive Serie A titles from 2012 to 2020.
Inter Milan finally broke their monopoly last season, confirming a gradual decline at Juve that took in the failed managerial appointments of Maurizio Sarri and Andrea Pirlo.
They have also had to weather the drawn-out departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, the player who was meant to have translated their domestic domination into European success.
Last month, three years and zero Champions League titles after his €100m arrival from Real Madrid, Ronaldo departed for his former club Manchester United.
Allegri, who stepped down in 2019 after winning 11 trophies in five seasons, is back at the helm and tasked with reversing the decline.
Off the pitch, Juventus have faced even greater challenges, some caused by Covid-19 and others self-inflicted.
The pandemic’s shuttering of football stadiums contributed to record losses of €210m for the 2020-21 financial year as revenue contracted by 16 per cent.
In a letter to shareholders this week, Agnelli said the global health crisis had dealt “the heaviest of blows”, adding: “The damage caused by this event has been huge.”
Agnelli hoped the European Super League, which promised some clubs golden hellos of €200m-€300m, would remove Covid-related liquidity problems at a stroke.
Instead, the proposals swiftly collapsed under an avalanche of opposition, leaving Juventus facing Uefa disciplinary action and Agnelli branded “a snake”.
Matters have improved since then – Allegri has nudged the team up the table and the courts have sided with the European Super League rebels, for now – but the club that sits at the foot of the Alps still has a mountain to climb.
On the pitch, their improvement has only been enough to drag them to 10th in Serie A, 10 points adrift of early pacesetters Napoli and four off the top four.
A new team is emerging from the shadow of Ronaldo, built around newer faces Manuel Locatelli, Dejan Kulusevski and Matthijs de Ligt, the back-in-favour Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala, and Italy Euro 2020 winners Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Chiesa.
Chelsea to provide sternest test of Juve’s nascent revival
They are set for their sternest test of the season on Wednesday evening, however, when Champions League holders Chelsea visit Piedmont for the second round of fixtures in Group H.
The Blues suffered the first defeat of their campaign on Saturday against Premier League title rivals Manchester City but have otherwise impressed, continuing their improvement since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard halfway through last season.
With a potent new attacking figurehead in Romelu Lukaku, they have swatted aside Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal and held current leaders Liverpool. But for a deflection that wrongfooted goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, they might have taken a point or more off City.
Uefa, meanwhile, has not taken the latest challenge to its authority lying down.
On Tuesday, the governing body announced multiple counter-measures in response to the Spanish court ruling that forced it to abandon sanctions for the European Super League rebels.
Noting that it “does not recognise the jurisdiction of the court in Madrid”, Uefa requested the recusal of the judge over what it deemed “significant irregularities in these proceedings” and made an appeal to a higher court in Spain.
“Uefa will continue to take all necessary steps, in strict accordance with national and EU law, in order to defend its interests and – most importantly – those of its members and all football stakeholders,” it said.
It means that the prospect of Juventus being banned from the Champions League has not been killed off altogether, merely placed in suspended animation.
While Allegri’s attempts to rejuvenate the Old Lady remain in their infancy, however, those concerns will continue to be academic.