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Football: Juventus - five key players

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Five key players in Juventus's 29th Scudetto win:

Gianluigi Buffon (ITA, goalkeeper)

Elected Serie A's goalkeeper of the year for the ninth time in January 2013 for a stellar 2012 campaign in which Juve remained unbeaten, Buffon arguably had a less impressive season this time around when the Bianconeri suffered four defeats. However the Juve and Italy national team captain remains one of the pillars of Antonio Conte's side. Other 'keepers in Serie A, notably Samir Handanovic (Inter) and Federico Marchetti (Lazio) have produced equally impressive displays but for sheer presence and ability to orchestrate from the back, neither goalkeeper matched Buffon. In fact, the 35-year-old shot-stopper has let in only a season low of 20 goals with three games left.

Giorgio Chiellini (ITA, centre-back)

If Juventus have leaked only 20 goals up until their title triumph on Sunday, it is in part down to Chiellini, in spite of two separate absences this season due to injury which have limited the 28-year-old to 21 appearances to date. A centre-back with a boxer's looks -- he still carry the scars of a broken nose suffered in 2009 -- Chiellini is the lynchpin between defenders Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci, a trio which is also aided by Juve's wing backs. Imposing, tough-tackling and strong in the air, Chiellini is Juve's vice-captain behind Buffon.

Paul Pogba (FRA, midfielder)

Signed on a free transfer from Manchester United in the back of a promise of quick, first-team football with the Italian giants -- never a certainty at Old Trafford -- Pogba has seized the day and become a regular in Antonio Conte's side. Having only just turned 20, the tall (1.91m) Frenchman has belied his tender years to play with maturity and poise alongside veteran midfielder Andrea Pirlo, whom he replaced upon making his debut in a pre-season friendly against Benfica. Pogba's physical stature, technical skill and keen eye for goal -- he has scored five goals in 25 appearances including a couple of screamers from 25 metres -- make him a tricky player for the opposition to deal with and he has won many fans among the Juve faithful, who will be waiting anxiously to see how he will develop in coming seasons.

Andrea Pirlo (ITA, midfielder)

Providing the link from the Bianconeri's three-man defence to attacking midfielders like Pogba, Vidal and Claudio Marchisio, Pirlo already plays a crucial role for Juventus but is also highly valued for his dead ball skills. Pirlo takes most of Juve's free kicks and corners and this season the midfield veteran has scored five times in the league. It was once said that to pass the ball to Pirlo was like 'hiding it in a safe', and in most cases that becomes the case. However several times this campaign Pirlo has revealed cracks by losing possession while trying to move the ball up to his forwards, although on most occasions the damage was limited. Pirlo remains a key player for both Juventus and Italy, but to further his career with the former he recently announced in his autobiography that he will retire from international football at the end of the 2014 World Cup.

Arturo Vidal (CHI, midfielder)

Signed from Bayer Leverkusen for what now appears to be a bargain price of 10.5 million euros in 2011, Vidal is so valued in Antonio Conte's side that the Juve coach initially altered his tactical formation, changing from his preferred 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2, to get the best out of the Chilean. Thanks to his technical skill, pace and strong dribbling, Vidal is highly valued as an attacking midfielder but, having scored seven goals in 33 games on his maiden Juve season in 2011-2012, has emerged as Juve's top scorer this season, outperforming the likes of striker Mirko Vucinic with 10 league goals and 14 in all compettions. Earlier this season, the 25-year-old scored his maiden Champions League goal in a 2-2 draw away to holders Chelsea and since then has impressed enough to attract the attention of Champions League finalists Bayern Munich.

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