And so it wasn’t to be Del Piero. “I hope I saved my goal for Sunday” the Juve captain said. Luca Toni became the first player to score at the new Stadium (albeit in a friendly match) Thursday evening, as Juventus and Notts County faced off to once again tie their histories together.
This fixture could not possibly have been better chosen to serve as the stadium’s christening, but I fear to say it did not really live up to its expectations. Surely no one assumed the second lines of Juventus and First Division team Notts County would serve us a spectacle of El Clásico proportions, yet after the magnificent spectacle… nay, the FEAST for our eyes that was THE OPENING CEREMONY, we would have wished for a nice cherry on the cake. If not some ADP magic and first goal, at least more than a few tallies and above all, a Juventus victory.
It was not to be. Lee Hughes found an equalizer in the final minutes of the game (a scramble in front of the net after a save by Manninger) and tied Luca Toni’s score opener, a left-footed redirect after a saved penalty shot from Quagliarella. But perhaps it is even better like this. A 1-1 draw. Two teams sharing such an important bond, celebrating together, in the new home of Juventus for this year and surely, for many years to come.
|21:30||After a fantastic and very emotional opening ceremony (I cried :’( ), the stage is set for the historic friendly match: Juventus vs. Notts County!!|
|21:40||Juventus warming up in their original pink shirts, Notts County wearing blue for now, but shirts will change later on.|
|21:45||Teams proceeding with their warm-ups. Spotted Simone Pepe in what could possibly be his first game of the pre-season. Eljero Elia also ready for his unofficial debut.|
|21:50||The atmosphere permeating through the TV screen is just fantastic. I can’t even imagine what Adam and the 41,000 tifosi inside the stadium must be feeling right now.|
|21:57||Notts County captain Neal Bishop with a symbolic gesture, offers Alessandro Del Piero the 2011-12 Juventus shirt (with Del Piero #10 on the back). 98 years later the Black & White torch is passed again. Just beautiful.|
|22:00||All is ready to begin. The teams have changed their kits: Juventus in their traditional Black & White. Notts County in vertical dark/light blue stripes.|
|1′||Vidal at last gets his first game in the center of the park: defensive midfielder with Pazienza.|
|2′||Interesting tidbit, commentator (the eternal Fabio Caressa, I’m watching the Sky stream) just said a Notts County player holds the record of 29 red cards in his career. In other words: “The Perfect Storm” Montero-Davids-Melo combined.|
|4′||Elia gets free on the left, tries a cross in, deflected into corner.|
|6′||Foul obtained by Notts County on the right wing. FK neutralized by defense & Gigi.|
|8′||Great ball from Vidal to Matri, through over the defensive line. Chests it and tries a turning left-footed effort. Low and weak for the keeper to save easily.|
|11′||Elia with some good trickery on the left. Great acceleration and skill by the Dutch player, but is forced to backtrack. De Ceglie sends in a cross, Matri with the header!! Over the bar.|
|13′||De Ceglie with a long ball tries to find Matri. Decent effort but a little too deep for the ex-Cagliari man.|
|15′||Pepe lively and in good health it seems. Accelerates on the right and tries to find Elia on the opposite wing. Deflected into CK. Nothing comes out of it.|
|17′||FK Juve from a good position, slightly towards the right corner of the box. Notts County certainly aren’t shying away from muscular challenges, but I’m all for it. They want to up to par for this very important occasion and honor their invitation. Just as long as no one gets injured.|
|17′||ADP’s FK straight into the wall.|
|18′||Sideline report: Conte, who up until a few minutes ago had been quietly sitting on his bench, now up and about in his technical area, yelling orders to his players. That’s the spirit!|
|21′||SUPER CHANCE JUVE! Fantastic ball from Vidal to Matri, beats offside trap perfectly. Controls it and tries to slide it past the keeper, saved! Ball lands to Elia who fakes out a defender and puts it on his left. Into the side netting! So close!!|
|24′||Del Piero tries a backheel flick but it’s intercepted, the ball loops towards the Notts keeper who, under pressure by Elia, is forced to clear. Elia looking very lively tonight, evidently trying to impress his new employers and fans!|
|27′||Sideline report: despite half of Juve’s usual starters aren’t on the pitch at the moment, Conte wants his players to play the usual Juve game. Wingers should try to provoke & penetrate, drift to the center on occasion. Defenders should privilege ball possession amongst themselves, build the play on the way up.|
|28′||Del Piero with a good chance, tries a half-volley from 25 yards! Over.|
|30′||Great work by Elia on the left, accelerates, tricks his defender and gets a good cross in. Fantastic delivery for Pepe, who attempts a one-time volley!! But it’s miles over the bar!! Such a good chance gone begging!|
|32′||ADP FK from the right, headed away. Lands to De Ceglie who attemps a half-volley from 20 yards. Over and wide.|
|35′||While a Mexican wave conquers the stands, Juventus are trying to move the ball wide ont the wings, switching sides often in order to stretch the play. Occasionally a good cross lands into the Notts County area, but so far without finding a striker on the other end.|
|37′||Large number of players warming up on the sidelines. We’re probably looking at many changes in the 2nd half.|
|39′||Great long ball by Pazienza towards Pepe inside the box. Pushes his marker a bit too energetically then gets literally run over by a second defender. Referee gives a corner, also in light of Pepe’s previous possible foul.|
|41′||Other than a few balls swung in from set pieces, Notts County have given Buffon virtually nothing to do. Now another FK for them.|
|42′||From the free-kick, Demontagnac’s curling effort straight onto goal! Good ball, but Buffon moves well to clutch it into his arms!|
|44′||Pepe getting a bit nervous. I guess he doesn’t like the muscular challenges he’s being subjected to, and tries to reply in turn. Commits a foul.|
|45′||Half-time. Not a great game so far. In terms of entertainment value, the opening ceremony certainly miles above what we’ve seen on the pitch so far.|
|46′||Time for Storari, Sorensen, Marrone, Toni, Quags, Estigarribia to enter the fray. They replace Buffon, De Ceglie, Vidal, Matri, Del Piero, Pepe. It’s the first match for Estigarribia, who no doubt also wants to impress his new fans after a great Copa América tournament.|
|48′||Indeed, Estigarribia VERY lively on the field right now. In constant movement and trying to alternate short and long passing with his teammates. The Notts defense is trying to contain him as best they can.|
|52′||Penalty Juve! Handball inside the Notts County box! It’s Quags to take it.|
|53′||Quagliarella penalty SAVED!!! But Luca Toni pounces on the rebound! Left-footed finish and 1-0 Juventus|
|54′||And so, the first ever (non-competitive) goal at the new Juventus stadium belongs to NUMERO UNO (no song was played over the speakers though! I also realize I just wrote “Toni” and “pounce” in the same sentence. Shoot me!|
|55′||More show by Estigarribia!! Gets in between two Notts defenders. Ball lands to Pazienza outside the box, low effort wide.|
|57′||First yellow card of the game. Pazienza with a foul too many, sliding challenge on Bencherif.|
|58′||Meanwhile, Matteo Liviero (Primavera left-back) has come on for Barzagli. Sorensen moves to the center. Also more changes for Notts County, keeper included.|
|62′||Time for Ruggiero to step in at right wing. Elia comes off and receives a big round of applause. Good first impressions from the young Dutchman tonight!|
|62′||Meanwhile Pirlo begins his warm-up and also receives the crowd’s warm welcome.|
|63′||Corner Notts County. Great header by Hollis and even greater save by Storari who parries it into corner! The first real save of the game for Juve’s keepers.|
|65′||Juve being rather scrappy at the moment, especially in defense. Can’t seem to hold possession for very long, and we aren’t exactly facing FC Barcelona are we.|
|67′||Juve trying long balls. Bonucci to Toni. Intercepted. Marrone to Ruggiero. Offside. Inefficient and boring.|
|70′||Following yet another lost ball by Juve, Hughes gets behind the D line and gets a shot in. Storari is vigilant. But it’s called offside anyway.|
|72′||Chiellini and Pirlo on for Barzagli and Pazienza. About time we saw some creativity in central midfield. Chiellini goes CB, Sorensen RB.|
|74′||Some lovely passing by Notts on the right wing, sends Judge clear on the wing for a good long cross. But Storari’s aerial save is imperial.|
|75′||Judge again finds Hughes’s header! Over the bar. And now Storari leaves his place to Manninger for the final 15 minutes.|
|77′||Pirlo with a howling pass straight to the opposition right in front of his box! But Marrone followed the play and wins it back!! Not only that but he sends an almost perfect pass to Ruggiero on the right. Almost. Keeper comes out and clears.|
|78′||Great through ball from Toni towards Liviero on the left! Reminiscent of the best Molinaro, Matteo’s storming run is followed by a horrendous cross.|
|80′||Sorensen gets a bit schooled by the step-overs of Notts’ left midfielder. The cross lands to Church who attempts a half-volley wide.|
|81′||Time for Lichtsteiner, comes on for Bonucci. Sorensen back in the center.|
|84′||Estigarribia with an almost perfect cross for Toni. Just inches too long.|
|86′||Sideline report: ADP interview. Long talk with the Juve captain, tells us about what that moment with Boniperti meant to him, what this new stadium can bring, his speech during the opening ceremony.|
|88′||Meanwhile, while ADP is still talking, Notts County draw level. Cross from the left, confusion and redirected header that Manninger gets down to parry. It pinballs off someone’s leg, right towards Lee Hughes for the easiest of tap-ins. 1-1.|
|90′||Full-time. The first match at the NEW JUVENTUS STADIUM ends 1-1.|
- All in all a fair result and a great way to put these two teams, who share such important history together, on the same level.
- In light of the Serie A opener vs. Parma Sunday Juventus certainly weren’t taking any risks. With so many important players missing (Marchisio or Krasic didn’t even get a single minute), or being benched from the start, difficult to make team assessments. We are left with individual ones.
- Among these, it was our first chance to see Eljero Elia and Marcelo Estigarribia in action. The former played a good portion of the game on the left flank, then was slotted onto the right when Estigarribia came on to replace Pepe in the 2nd half. Both players I must say, impressed me a lot. Elia looked very lively and motivated, showcasing his incredible bursts of acceleration and trickery. As for Estigarribia, he showed more ball control & poise, though still rapidity in his movements for which he is famous for.
- Speaking of Simone Pepe, he looked motivated and healthy, but the quality of his plays left something to be desired. Moderate crossing, iffy dribbling, one poor finishing attempt from a good position. My guess is that he’s still rusty from all this time on the sidelines. Given the winger situation at Juve we aren’t expecting Pepe to be much of a starter this year, and tonight’s performance did nothing to change that notion.
- When asked by Fabio Caressa which two strikers he intended to field Sunday, Antonio Conte was very evasive. He’s certainly known for keeping his cards close to his chest, and is likely looking to assess Vucinic’s final condition before he makes any decisions. With the expectation of the Montegrin’s full recovery, it is likely we will see Matri & Vucinic start the day.
|GOALSCORERS: 54′ Toni (J), 87′ L.Hughes (N).
| JUVENTUS (4-2-4): Buffon (46′ Storari, 75′ Manninger) – Motta (73′ Chiellini) , Bonucci (81′ Lichsteiner), Barzagli (60′ Liviero), De Ceglie (46′ Sorensen) – Pazienza (73′ Pirlo), Vidal (46′ Marrone) – Pepe (46′ Estigarribia), Matri (46′ Toni), Del Piero (46′ Quagliarella), Elia (62′ Ruggiero). COACH: Conte.
(UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Grosso, Marchisio, Vucinic, Giaccherini, Lichtsteiner, Krasic, Gab.Appelt, Carfora, Chibsah, Corticchia, Di Dio, Emmanuello, C.Garcia, Lanini, Libertazzi, Rubin, Schiavone, Spinazzola, Untersee.)
(UNAVAILABLE: Iaquinta due to injury)
| NOTTS COUNTY (4-4-2): Burch (56′ Stuart) – Kelly (46′ Sheehan), Edwards (46′ Judge), Pearce (69′ Hollis), Demontagnac (60′ J.Hughes) – Hawley (60′ Burgess), Bishop (46′ Chilvers), Stirling, Ravenhill (60′ L.Hughes) – Allen (60′ Thompson, 75′ Bencherif), Mahon (46′ Nicholas). Coach: Martin Allen.
What They Said After the Game:
A legend and part of many important victories, now the first team manager but above all a Juventus fan. Antonio Conte experienced Juve’s fantastic opening ceremony from many different viewpoints.
It proved to be an evening which all Bianconeri supporters, Conte included, will remember for a long time to come, despite there being around 60 hours to go until the manager’s first official game leading our side. But before dealing with the fixture against Parma, Conte spoke with great enthusiasm about the event. “It’s been an evening full of great emotions and now these feelings need to be transferred onto the team. Today oue new recruits have understood what Juve’s history is. We want to return to being competitive, and the fans of this evening have shown they want it as much as we do.”
Conte also sought to comment on Sunday’s game against Parma, decidedly more important that today’s friendly vs. Notts County: “I’m optimistic. We’ll face an important match against a team who have won a little too often against Juve lately, now it’s time to reverse the trend. I have just a few hours to assess everyone’s condition and assemble the best possible formation.”
Alessandro DEL PIERO:
Alessandro Del Piero will certainly be one of the many Bianconeri to never forget September 8th, 2011. The captain immediately made his mark in the new stadium, playing a key part – along with fellow legend Giampiero Boniperti – in one of the most touching moments of the opening ceremony.
It proved to be an almost perfect evening for the talismanic skipper, only lacking in a first historic goal in Juve’s new home. Luca Toni holds this particular privilege, but Alex is already thinking about the first official game, Sunday’s encounter with Parma. “No, I wasn’t upset at not scoring tonight, I hope I’ve saved the goal for Sunday.”
The game with the Gialloblu will mark the beginning of the Serie A campaign. A season in which Juventus wish to be back fighting for honours. “We’ll start with great expectations, knowing that if we express ourselves in the best possible way we can aspire and begin to dream. After the last few seasons we must start with solid foundations, not immediately think about the top of the table. There will come a moment in which we hope to be able to fly again. Several things have changed, the manager, the staff, many players and also the stadium. These widespread changes must create enthusiasm and we’ll start from that point. Every year has its main players and its way of panning out, we hope to bring back those victorious seasons.”
Just seven metres between the first row and the pitch: one of the top notch features of Juve’s New Stadium. The Bianconeri who played Notts County this evening felt new sensation with these conditions, especially someone like Gigi Buffon who, as keeper, has always been in a privileged position on the pitch.
After 45 minutes between the sticks and no goals conceded (a good omen for the future), Juve’s #1 had the opportunity to express his feelings on the regard: “Playing with all fans being so close is really galvanizing, I hope this novelty can help us in doing even better. This evening has made all our new signings understand what Juventus means, and for the ‘old’ players this concept has been refreshed. The ceremony has been great, perfectly arranged by our club, and we can be proud and grateful for this experience. In the next few years, few teams will have the privilege to open another wonderful facility like ours.”
“We enjoyed the exhilarating atmosphere provided by the new stadium. It’s been a touching evening, for both the supporters and for all of us, also because it’s been five years since we last were in this place. Personally I was very moved.” Giorgio Chiellini was another Bianconeri player to pass comment on the incredible enthusiasm present in the stadium, but the defender is already looking ahead. “Now we need to transfer this Juventus feeling, this desire to start a new era, into giving everything on the pitch on Sunday. It will be fundamental for us to begin well against Parma. We need to repay the club and the fans because this stadium is a great thing, today’s atmosphere and the warmth of the public were incredible. Now it will take great character and an element of control to deal with the pressure and do well.”
Thoughts then turned towards the club’s Serie A debut, the first official game in Juventus Stadium: “Last year the clash against Parma changed our season. We were all in good form and we thought we’d be able to reach important targets. This year needs to be the complete opposite: it must be the start of something important for us. The stadium will give us a great boost and we need to ride on the wave of this enthusiasm.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome home”. Andrea Agnelli began his speech with these words, greeting the rapturous Bianconeri public in their new home. “We’re tens of millions in the world, millions in Italy and hundreds of thousands in this city. We know how to rejoice, suffer, win, grit our teeth. We’re the people of Juventus. People recognisable from the look in our eyes. People who know to accept the results that achieved on the pitch, a green playing surface like this one, painted with white lines which define our destiny. Lines that don’t lie, because the pitch always tells the truth.”
“A turf like this one saw us win the Italian title 29 times, the European Cup twice and the World Cup twice. Today we’re writing another chapter of this legendary story, overcoming bitter moments and joys, presidents and players, a legend which has warmed the hearts of entire generations. A legend which today enters its new home: Juventus.”
“When we come here, to our home, we’ll know to look at ourselves and our looks will meet those of our players. Young men with the will to win. Because winning has always been our custom, and it’s a great custom to have! Try to close your eyes for a moment. Now open them and look at the people around you… Don’t forget their faces. They are Juventus faces, meeting after 114 years after finally conquering their home. We have our own home! We have our magnificent team! We have superb fans! And we will always be united, today and tomorrow, ready to chant together, until the end…”
Fino alla fine, Forza Juventus!