This post was guest-blogged by Frank Lopapa. Follow him on Twitter (@fnlopapa).
We all know that Juventus is far and away Italy’s most popular club. However, the inverse is also true; the Bianconeri are also Italy’s most hated club. Being the most successful team on the peninsula, it’s only natural that such success breeds resentment, deserved or otherwise. No matter where we play, whether it be the San Siro or the Sant’Elia (if Cagliari ever play there again), every team marks their calendars for the day they play Juve.
Join me as we take a look at six teams most Juventini would agree to be the Old Lady’s most intense rivals.
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The one club every Juventino loves to hate. The ‘Derby D’Italia’, which describes the annual encounter between Juventus and Inter, was bestowed upon the match by Gianni Brera in the mid 60s for two reasons: as a testament of the fixture between Italy’s two most decorated clubs, and for the historic tension separating fans from the two teams. The common belief it describes a match between the only two clubs to never have been relegated is — in fact — false, as at the time Bologna and Milan also had never been to Serie B.
Always a spirited rivalry, affairs between Bianconeri and Nerazzurri took a turn during the 1990s, with Massimo Moratti’s constant prattling on about supposed injustices (the most notable being the Ronaldo-Iuliano “incident”). Interisti, carried by the words of their president, naturally followed suit. However, with the breakout of the Calciopoli scandal and Inter’s perceived influence in getting Juve relegated, the hatred between the two sets of supporters only intensified. With their loathed rivals in shambles, Inter began a dominant spell in Serie A, culminated by their ‘tripletta’ of 2010 (every time I think of it I get physically sick).
Juventini’s contempt for the Nerazzurri only grew exponentially when, upon discovery that Inter too had participated in illicit activites prior to Calciopoli’s eruption (and particularly, infractions of Article 1), the FIGC chose not to indict the club based on the statute of limitations. In Italy, Juventus fans will forever address Inter & their fans as “prescritti” (i.e. protected by the statute of limitations) and as a result, matches between the two sides are almost always filled with vitriol and animosity, like any proper rivalry should.
The natural, intra-city rivalry. Toro supporters will claim that their club truly represents the city and the Piedmont region, and that Juventus is not really supported in the city or the region at large.
A bit of history: Torino was founded nine years after Juventus in 1906 as a result of an argument between factions within the Bianconeri. The dissenters left, and thus, Torino FC was born. The first match between the two Turin clubs was on January 13, 1907 which Torino won 2-1. Hotly contested throughout most of the 20th century, the rivalry has lost a little zest since the Granata have bounced around between Serie A and Serie B over the past decade; Juventus and Torino have only played each other six times in the past 10 years.
When the two clubs square up December 1, it will be the first Derby della Mole in over three and a half years. I for one actually hope Torino stays up for the next couple seasons, because who doesn’t love beating up on your cross-town rival? Enzo Maresca certainly does…
To put it diplomatically: I don’t particularly like Fiorentina. Mainly because of the ‘-39′ banner Fiorentina supporters displayed in Turin last year, as well as their strange superiority-inferiority complex. If they’re going to have a seething hatred for us, may as well throw it right back at them. But I digress.
Viola supporters *hate* Juventus, to the point where it would be extremely unwise to walk around Florence in a Juve shirt, lest you feel like taking a trip to the hospital. But why all this rage towards the Old Lady? Turin and Florence aren’t exactly close to each other, and Fiorentina hasn’t seriously challenged for the Scudetto since the 1980s. Actually, it goes back to when Fiorentina did challenge Juve for the title some years ago, but got edged by a single point during the 1981-82 season (thanks to a late Juve penalty converted by Liam Brady, away to Catanzaro on the final matchday).
Yet it is several years later, with the Pontello family (then owners of the Viola club) wanting to cash in on their prize asset Roberto Baggio, that the rivalry became bitter. With the sale ‘Il Divin Codino’ to Juventus for 25 billion Lire (~€10m today, a record amount at the time), Fiorentina supporters were furious. Pretty much ever since then the hatred for all things Black & White has permeated throughout Florence, but it certainly helps that Juventini have reciprocated this hatred throughout the years.
Another rivalry that goes back to the 1980s, back when the Giallorossi were regularly competing near the top of the table with Juve. Despite boasting teams with the likes of Paulo Roberto Falcao, Pietro Vierchowod, and Roberto Pruzzi, Roma were only able to win a single Scudetto in the 80s. Much of that was down to the dominance of Juventus.
Things got testy during the 1990s when Zdenek Zeman took the helm at the capital club. The eccentric Czech made claims that Juve’s player were doping under the guidance of their medical team, which gave them an unfair advantage over everyone else. Still believing it’s 1994, Zeman recently came out and said that he doesn’t believe Juventus even won the “official” count of 28 Scudetti; that because of “Juve’s rampant cheating” in the 90s, it’s really more like 22 or 23. This is why beating his ass by 4 goals at the end of September was so, so satisfying.
Adding to the animosity is that fact that the Lazio region (much like the rest of Italy) is home to many Bianconeri supporters. When Juve play at the Olimpico in the capital, the away end is usually packed with Juventini, many of whom are from the city and surrounding areas.
Another heated, hostile rivalry stemming from the 1980s when Napoli snagged a couple Scudetti thanks largely to the famous MA-GI-CA trio of Diego Maradona, Bruno Giordano, and Careca. Like Rome, Naples is home to thousands of Juventini, a fact that leaves many Napoli supporters a bit ruffled and therefore intensifies the rivalry even more.
Personally, I enjoy playing against Napoli in a masochistic sort of way; they always give us a hard time, so beating them makes watching the match an even more rewarding experience, especially if it means hearing the Juventus fans mockingly sing ‘O Surdato ‘Nammurato’. On the other hand, I hate, hate losing to Napoli so much, probably because it makes them so happy.
This year more than ever, with the two teams currently dominating Serie A and harboring reciprocally sour sentiments (after facing each other in the Coppa Italia final last year, and this year’s Supercoppa), the Juve vs. Napoli rivalry has taken a special meaning. It’s certainly too early to tell, but many are already pointing at the clash of October 20 as a “Scudetto showdown”. Juventus Stadium frets in anticipation…
I didn’t mean to list Milan last on purpose. They’re certainly a rival, but to me it has always come off as a ‘gentlemanly’ rivalry (or as gentlemanly as a rivalry can be in Italy). With the exception of Muntari-gate last season and the following fallout, these are two sides that seem to truly respect one another; rarely, if ever, any cheap shots. It might have something to do with the old adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” And we all know who that common enemy is.
The 1990s and early 2000s were dominated by both club’s success domestically and in Europe. Milan won three straight league titles in the early 90s plus a Champions League title, after which Juventus won three of the next four titles (the other one naturally went to the Rossoneri), not to mention the Turin side’s three successive Champions League finals. This dominant run by the two sides culminated in the 2003 Champions League final, where Milan defeated Juventus on penalties.
Additionally, the two sides play against each other in the annual Trofeo Berlusconi during the lead up to the new season. Superstition has it that the winner of said trophy does not win the Scudetto in the upcoming year (further reinforcing the idea that if Juve are not to win the Scudetto, then Milan will, and vice-versa). There is an element of truth to the “curse”, as since 2002 all but once has either club won the Trofeo and the Serie A title in the same year (Juventus in 2004). Earlier in August Juventus won the match, so now it is a question of whether they can break the “curse”.
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Even though the above likely represent the Bianconeri’s fiercest “enemies”, in truth for Juventus every team is a rival: everyone wants a piece of us, regardless of how high or how low the club is in the table. We are a club that has only enemies, no friends. As the saying goes… amici di nessuno!
Well, except maybe for these guys…