“We will be able to win only if we sacrifice ourselves for one another.” This is the message echoed from Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli as the club are prepared for their most challenging season after the agony of falling at the final hurdle of the Champions League whilst trying to retain the status of being Italy’s top dogs. Agnelli reminds the players and coaching staff that this campaign should not be centred on winning the Champions League, despite the ambitions of lifting the Scudetto for the seventh consecutive time.
This exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary series from Netflix has lived up to expectations. Dynamic clips of matches, aesthetically pleasing shots of the cultural city of Turin and an inside scoop on what members of The Old Lady get up to outside of calcio, the first three episodes of the title ‘First Team: Juventus’ have been a spectacle.
Within the opening minutes of the first episode, the community club essence is already captured as Bianconeri fans are openly invited to watch the club’s first team and youth team play each other in an exhibition match. Clear stars of the team are identified from legends like Gianluigi Buffon to uprising stars like Paulo Dybala as supporters chase onto the pitch to meet their heroes before the game is even concluded.
Dybala is perceived as the chosen one in this documentary as his development since joining Juve from Palermo in 2015 has catapulted him to extreme heights. From the vital brace the Argentine scored against Barcelona in last season’s Champions League to the mesmeric hat-trick away from home against Sassuolo in September, the 24-year-old is passing the expectation of donning the No.10 jersey with flying colours. “It is the number when it comes to soccer,” says club all-time leading scorer Alessandro Del Piero.
From a talent with high promise to a player that has little to prove in Claudio Marchisio, ‘Il Principino’ (The Little Prince) explains his journey from being scouted at seven years old to being an integral part of the recent success of the club. The 32-year-old’s legacy lives on as his signed jersey is hung up inside the Vinovo training complex with a message to academy players reading: ‘May this jersey and my story shape your dreams.’ Viewers see the gentleman side to Marchisio in the second episode as he shows the way to make a classic Italian mocha whilst he finds positives to the knee injury he suffered at the start of the season by spending time with his son.
Back to matters on the field and Juve earn back-to-back comeback victories. Mario Mandzukic scores in the 84th minute against Sporting CP in the Champions League and embarrassment is avoided against Benevento, who were just over half an hour away from causing the shock of the season on Juventus’ 120th anniversary celebrations at the Allianz Arena. It wasn’t to be as Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado ensured that their opponents would remain without a point since promotion to the top flight.
Despite these gutsy wins on the club front, Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in Russia spreads like wildfire. Giorgio Chiellini does all he can to forget about what may be his last chance to represent the Azzurri by watching the country’s basketball team in training, showing the patriotism he has for his country regardless of the national team nightmare.
The way in which the final part of this trilogy kicks off couldn’t have been more engaging for the viewer. The narrator highlights the friction between Napoli and Juventus as well as the divide between the north and south of Italy. The tension between the two clubs is fuelled even more by Higuain’s controversial move from Naples. He is the clear villain, pictured on toilet paper all over the coastal city. The Argentine enhanced his public enemy figure by scoring the only goal in the crucial win at the Stadio San Paolo.
However, the stalemate against a resilient Inter side has seen the Partenopei gain a slender lead in the title race up to this point. The see-saw between attentions from Serie A to Europe’s elite competition continues. Federico Bernardeschi reveals that Juventus is a dream club and it’s an opportunity the summer signing is relishing as he cemented the team’s place in the knockout stages but sealing off a 2-0 win away to Olympiakos. Unsurprisingly, the cliff-hanger to the series is passing the Tottenham test in the knockout stages with the clear incentive of becoming European champions for the first time since 1996.
Words by Ben King: @BenKing96