Juventus Versus Genoa, Italy

Juve, storia di un grande amore

For us growing up in Melbourne, Australia, there was only one winter sport: Australian Rules Football. We were all mad about it. Of the other football codes, Rugby League was some game played in Sydney, Rugby Union was a baffling sport played by a few kids in private schools, and soccer (‘football’ for our European friends) didn’t even enter the conversation.

Up until a few weeks ago, I had only been to one soccer match in my entire life, back when I was a young fella. My friend Leo, a proud son of Greek migrants, invited me and my mate Luke over to his place one weekend to watch the Aussie Rules. He suggested we come around early and go to a local soccer league game first. I only remember two things about that game we went to somewhere in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. First, instead of serving meat pies in the canteen (the staple food item at Aussie Rules games), there were souvlakis (also called yiros in some parts of Melbourne: lamb, lettuce, tomato and onion rolled up in flat bread with garlic sauce), and they were delicious. And second, one of the players was called Cantaloupo, which I reckon is one of the best surnames I have ever heard. As it turned out, my second live soccer match was to be a little higher profile than that suburban league game all those years ago.

My Moroccan visa had expired, so I needed to leave the country for a while. My friend Polly, always up for a weekend away from her native Poland, suggested we catch up in Turin, Italy. A keen sports fan, she picked Turin as Juventus Football Club were scheduled to play at home against the spectacularly named Genoa Cricket and Football Club* in Italy’s Serie A football league. To be honest, I’m one of those Aussies who only takes an interest in soccer when the World Cup is on. But I also love a big sporting event no matter what it is, so readily agreed that we should go to the game. Juventus is the most popular and successful club in Italy, so seeing them play sure to be an experience.

On match day, we made our way out on the bus to Allianz Stadium, Juventus’ home ground, a 41.507 seat arena on the north side of Turin. Walking from the bus stop I was surprised that there didn’t seem to be that many fans around. There was a steady stream of people heading for the Stadium, but not the sea of black-and-white faithful making their way to the Temple of Juventus that I had expected. The capacity of the ground puts it in the mid-range size for venues, but we had found tickets hard to come by so I was expecting a sell-out crowd.

We passed vendors that had set up along the thoroughfares leading to the ground, selling all manner of supporters gear and suitably Italian snack foods.

We had arrived an hour before the match was due to start, which was fortunate as gaining entry to the ground turned out to be a complicated exercise. First up, our gate was on the diagonally opposite side of the ground to the bus stop, so that involved a bit of a hike to find it. As we searched for our gate, there was a real rock concert atmosphere as music boomed out from inside the stadium. Arriving at our designated entry point, we joined our first queue, which inched forward glacially until we reached a gate and presented our tickets and ID.

Come on! Rattle ya dags!

We were then asked to join another queue, which moved equally slowly, as staff completed security checks with airport-like thoroughness.

Supporters’ scarves came in for particularly close attention, so I assumed they were a popular weapons-smuggling conveyance. When it was our turn, we had our bags searched, then were scanned with metal detectors.

‘Stick ’em up!’ (thanks Polly for the pic)

Thanks Polly for the clip

The security staff directed us towards yet another similarly slow queue, where for reasons unknown our tickets were checked for a second time. The music and crowd noise seemed to be intensifying, and I was getting worried we would miss the kick-off.

Finally through the last of the checks, we hurried towards our seating bay. Entering the stadium was a full-on sensory experience, with music blasting, a capacity crowd, and a sea of colour and movement. I realised that most of the fans must have already been seated in the ground by the time Polly and I got off the bus.

Our seats were in the very back row, but due to the steep angle of the stands we still had a great view. It was certainly better than if we’d been behind the goal at the Juve cheer squad end. The hard core fans behind the net were waving massive Juventus flags, and anyone sitting anywhere near them would have had a hard time seeing the pitch at all.

With minutes to go before the start of the match, we duly stood for the Juventus anthem. It seemed entirely appropriate that an Italian soccer club should have an ‘anthem’ rather than a mere club ‘song’. It was sung with gusto by everyone save for the hundred or so Genoa fans that had made the trip up from the coast to watch their team. It was hard not to get swept up in all the excitement.

Thanks Polly for the clip

Shortly after, the teams came out onto the ground to thunderous applause, and after a short warm-up the whistle blew and we were underway. Despite Juventus sitting comfortably above Genoa on the league standings, the visitors dominated the general play in the first half. Genoa kept the ball in their attacking half for much of the period, but the tight Juve defence stood firm. On the few occasions that Juventus took the ball to their scoring end, they looked more dangerous than Genoa, but despite this the score at half time was nil-all.

The stands emptied fast as the fans headed off to the snack bar for an espresso and a cheese and ham panini. Onto the pitch came the ground staff, who did their best to fill in the divots whilst the sprinklers gave the grass a little freshen up. Now that’s attention to detail.

For the gardeners of Turin, tending the turf at Allianz was the ultimate job

With the crowd back and suitably refreshed, the second half got underway and the momentum shifted. Juventus started to dictate play, and generated several serious scoring chances. With each forward thrust the noise rose to a crescendo in the stands, only to turn into roars of disappointment and frustration as Genoa denied the home side time and again. The bloke in front of us was certainly passionate about his footy, and was more than willing to give the Juventus players a little free advice.

With time ticking down, the Juventus fans were desperately willing their team on to find a way through the Genoan defence. But it was not to be, and when the whistle blew, the scorer’s signed off on a nil-all draw. I reckon the Genoa fans would have been pretty content with the result, having kept the more fancied Juventus scoreless.

From their small section of seats, fenced off from the surrounding bays, they started getting mouthy, and let the Juve fans have it. This is something I wasn’t familiar with from Australian Rules matches. Back in Aus, fans tend to direct their insults at the opposition team out on the ground, and although soccer fans probably do the same, there isn’t any coordinated denigration of the opposition fans. It’s little wonder that the taunts and chants exchanged by fans inside the stadium have traditionally lead to street fights outside. Nowadays things seem tightly regulated, and the Genoa supporters were whisked away through private exits and presumably onto waiting buses, never to cross paths with the Black and White Army.

Despite not seeing a goal scored, Polly and I had thoroughly enjoyed the game. We joined the line of fans heading out of the stadium, and made our way back to the bus stop.

My second live soccer match had been a little different to the first one way back when I was a young bloke, and not just because there were no souvlakis on offer and no-one on the team sheets called Canteloupo. Sitting in the stands with 41, 406 other cheering sports fans watching top-level soccer in Italy was a fantastic experience. If you ever visit Turin, get yourself along to a Juventus game. Just make sure you arrive in plenty of time.

*Apparently Genoa was originally a cricket and athletics club way back when it was formed in the British Consulate in 1893. It appears that cricket took a bit of a back seat to the round ball game early on in the Club’s history, before the bats and pads were mothballed for good

A few tips for enjoying a Juventus match at Allianz Stadium, Turin

  • Book your tickets early. We were a little late in getting organised, and nearly missed out
  • We found it very straightforward to reach Allianz Stadium by bus. I can’t speak for car parking options, but can recommend the public transport for ease of reaching the ground. Be aware however that buses after the match are crowded so be prepared for a bit of a wait
  • Get to the ground in plenty of time. As described above, we arrived at the ground an hour before the game was scheduled to start and reached our seats with about 10 minutes to spare
  • As with most venues these days, Allianz Stadium has a comprehensive list of rules and regulations, so make sure to check them out before you visit

Visit the official Juventus Football Club website here and Genoa Cricket and Football Club here

If you liked this post, you may also like Surfing the Eisbach, Germany; Panathenaic Stadium, Greece

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Comments

4 responses to “Juventus Versus Genoa, Italy”

  1. Jill Glover Avatar
    Jill Glover

    Good to have your blog back. An amazing saga. Noise levels at the game incredible! Take care. What’s next I wonder?? Jill G

    1. Jim Clayton Avatar
      Jim Clayton

      Hello Jill, and thankyou it’s nice to be back! Yes the game was quite an experience. I’m currently in Montenegro which is a very beautiful country. I didn’t know much about it before I got here but it’s an amazing place. Hope you’re well!

  2. Nano Avatar
    Nano

    Indeed, great to have your blog back up! We missed it.

    1. Jim Clayton Avatar
      Jim Clayton

      Hello Nano,

      Thanks for your support! I hope you like the new look blog!

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