England was England – unpredictable as ever. Meantime the South was the South: predictable as ever. After the brief stir of the previous two years, everything went back to the same old ‘normal’. Kind of. In Italy Juventus won the title. So far ‘The Old Lady’ was the only big Italian club not winning anything internationally. The club won Scudetto for the first time after 1967, which was thrilling for suffering fans, but – on the surface – hardly a change in Italy.
Since Juventus did represent a change, it was not noticed that the club was actually ahead of the other Italian clubs – and on its road to domineer late 1970s and the 1980s. The team consisted of stars, of course, but somewhat secondary stars by Italian measures, where Mazzola and Rivera were the highest mark. Juve players were younger too – the team itself came to ripeness a few years later, but there was already good foundation for the future. Naturally, Capelo is the most famous name from 2009 standpoint – the famous coach. He was not the most impressive feature of the 1972 team, though: to my mind the most interesting part was the attack. The (West) German star Helmut Haller, the already impressive Anastasi, and the young Roberto Bettega. For Italian team, too many attackers. All of them centre forwards, but easily adapting their skills to the wings too. Heavy competition between three generations. Add the World champion with Brazil (1958) Jose Altafini and there was formidable attack line, well balanced in age and experience, and competing for titular place in the fielded squad. No other Italian club had so strong attacking choices. No other club had selection providing for gradual painless replacement of aging stars – Haller was to step down in a year, but Bettega really matured by 1978. Anastasi was rapidly becoming the leader of the attack and Altafini – dangerous reserve, coming in the second half to torture opposite defense. Juventus had variety, flexibility, and choice. They had money too – new players were added effortlessly, making the team stronger and stronger. More or less, Juventus made easy transition from one generation to the next – something Milan and Inter were unable to do. This was new, but it was realized few years later. Juventus were still heavily defensive team, but with younger players, they were able to adopt some elements of total football. 1972 was only the beginning.