Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Il Rinascimento della Juventus

July 14th, 2006. As a consequence of the Calciopoli affair, the courts decide the administrative relegation of Juventus FC to Serie B. It was a shock, not just in Italy, but in the World of football. Juventus was (and still is) the Italian club with more Scudettos and the only club along with Internazionale FC that had never been relagated to lower divisions. The corruption of their directors threw the club to the international shame, throwing to the garbage decades of prestige and honor.

During the last years, Juventus have lived their toughest moments in their history, at least, in recent history. A year in the hell of Serie B, the return to Serie A, with years of disadvantage with their rivals and flirting with mediocrity and the constant building up, after the loss of the magnificent team they had in 2006. But something started to change back in 2008, when the club decided to build a new stadium in the same lands of the Stadio delle Alpi.

The old home of Juventus never was a real home for them. Some sources claim that the majority of inhabitants of Turin are Torino fans, but it was just not normal to see all the naked concrete and plastic of the stands of the cold and usually empty Delle Alpi. The location out of the city, the cold weather, the bad design (bad vision from the stands, located too far from the pitch due to the athletics track)... one reason in particular or all together at the same time, but Delle Alpi was a very cold place. Too cold for a team of this size and fan base, probably the most important in Italy.

Stadio delle Alpi

Probably the idea of a new stadium was something that was roaming in the heads of the Juve directors since long ago, after Delle Alpi was acquired by the club in 2003, but the execution of this idea was in 2008. Somehow, during all this period, from 2008 to this summer, all Juventus was under construction: squad and stadium. While Internazionale was comfortably winning Scudettos and historical Trebles, while AC Milan also recovered from their sins in the same Calciopoli affair, the club was sowing the seeds of the future.

During the summer, Juventus has been presenting their new faces, their new project. Probably, on paper, they do not seem clear favorites for the title. Internazionale have been the power of the last half decade after the Calciopoli affair and AC Milan are the current winners of the Serie A. The two clubs of Milan still are the favorites among pundits and betting web sites. But there is an intangible factor, an uncertain factor that is in the air already: the Juventus Stadium, the jewel of the present and future of Juventus.

After the beautiful opening ceremony last Thursday, full of symbols, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Italian unification, legendary players and making a tribute for the fallen fans at Heysel, the real test was the first game of the Serie A season. And they surely passed the test. The atmosphere of the Juventus Stadium was unique. Despite the smaller capacity of the stadium (41,000 seats compared with the 69,295 seats of Delle Alpi), the new home of Juventus was warm, with the stands very near the pitch, the fans packing every single corner of their stadium, pushing from their seats with loud chants and a mosaic of flags and scarves. The Vecchia Signora looked younger than ever.

Juventus Stadium

The impact of this new stadium will be huge. In a league where the half empty stadiums with stands too far from the pitch, the atmosphere of the Juventus Stadium blow fresh air into calcio. Definitely, this kind of atmosphere will be a massive help for Juventus, but also an example for the rest of the Italian clubs, who probably envied what they were watching on TV. Perhaps it is not a unique case in Italy, but the fact of Juventus owning their new stadium is an important change in the traditions of the Italian football, since most of the clubs play in stadiums that are under public ownership. As many times in history, Juventus has open new horizons, not just for themselves, but also for the Italian football.

But the most important of all, this new stadium symbolizes the Renaissance of Juventus. The Calciopoli affair belong to the past and Juventus has definitely open a new era of hopes and illusion. The club remained on their feet with the support of their fans, but now they have new reasons of pride. The juventini have a new home, their home. For the first time since 2006, the World of football took a look at Turin and this time it was not to see corruption. This time all the fans of football watched the return of the Old Lady we all remember. Now the season is long and Juventus may win or may not, but lots of us finally thought: They are back. Last weekend, from my couch at home, I could not stop staring at the stands of the Juventus Stadium and neither did the home players, who found inspiration to defeat a terrified Parma. I believe I assisted to Il Rinascimento della Juventus.

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