Juventus fan Joe Pagnelli takes comfort in the Old Lady's re-birth after a number of years in the wilderness
A clash of the Titans, or so it was scheduled to be. After a poor display against Fiorentina, Juventus were tipped by many to lose their illustrious 44 game unbeaten run in the league, and there was no team more worthy to try and stop them than Roma. The Old Lady was set to stop singing the melodious tune she has been bellowing for 18 months.
Juventus have gone a long way since the post-Calciopoli years, far away from the consecutive 7th place finishes, and are now once again a force to be reckoned in Europe. The Old Lady could sing again, after being seemingly held in a chokehold for years after the scandal. On the pitch Juventus have flown under the radar for many years, however they have remained in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, but they have come back to full strength thanks in great part to Antonio Conte. The Old Lady regained her voice.
The game against Roma really embodied what Conte has done to this team, he has completely revamped the mentality and instilled what he calls “Juventinita”, which means the Juventus spirit. Conte is part of excellent company, as he was once captain of Juventus, his passion and love for Juventus is unquestioned. As a player he was renowned for his fighting spirit and no nonsense football. And just as he expected 200% from himself as a player, he expects the same from his players as a coach.
The game kicked off, and the scripts had all been written claiming that Juve would have a hard time. They had just come off playing four games in nine nights, including a lucky draw against Fiorentina, they had Shakhtar to worry about a couple days later and most of all, their unbeaten run had gone on for far too long. But just 20 minutes in, Juventus were three goals up. And this ignited an offensive onslaught, instead of sitting back Juventus were on the attack, wave after wave of attack and hitting the crossbar three times in the process. One could only be disappointed Conte wasn’t there to savour the victory on the pitch with his players.
The game against Roma has solidified Juventus as a contender, not only in Serie A, but I see them going far even in Europe. Yes Juventus beat a team which is far off from the team it’s reputed to be, it’s a team which has won only two league games this season and is led by an ageing Totti and coached by a frankly maniacal man in Zeman. But it was the manner in which Juventus asserted themselves in a game of this stature; this team is ready for Europe. Europe should open their eyes, and prepare for a full footballing experience.
Flashback three years; Juventus were battered; the Old Lady grew restless and had lost her voice. Juventus became history, although they had a glorious and magnificent history, it had become just history. No one remembered the three consecutive Champions League finals they reached in the late 90s, no one remembered the likes of Platini, Deschamps, Zidane, Nedved and Alex Del Piero among a myriad of legends who wore the black and white stripes. The Old Lady had become a myth, a sleeping beauty left in a lumbering slumber.
Then Conte stepped in, and brusquely interrupted this pitiful slumber. The Old Lady has awoken, and with history and pride back she is back to play in Europe. Whilst most will ridicule the idea that a team that hasn’t played in Europe for two years is a contender, I think otherwise. I believe no team, other than Barcelona, can match Juventus’ midfield. I don’t think that any team in Europe can match our depth, and most of all I know that no team in Europe matches Juventus’ character and “grinta”.
Juventus’ meteoric rise in the past two years is great not only for us Juventus fans, but for Italian and European football. Tonight we can feast on what will be a great showing of footballing excellence at the Juventus Stadium, which hasn’t yet experienced a loss since its construction. We watch the re-birth of the great black and white stripes, we can watch an orchestra of symphonies perform gracefully on the pitch. You’ll witness Juventus. You’ll feel the Juventinita.