Juventus vs. Udinese: An all-out Bianconeri affair

juventus vs. udinese
www.google.com/+juventus

Three. That is thee number of teams in Italian football who have successfully won five straight Scudetti. The first was Juventus from 1931 to 1935, until their run was snapped by Bologna during the 1935/1936 campaign. La Vecchia Signora were then followed by their cross-town rivals Torino, who lifted the coveted-trophy during the 1942/1943 term and then from 1946 to 1949 once the league resumed after World War II. Given that most fans today – or their parents for that matter – were not alive during that time, they will be certainly familiar with Inter’s successful period from 2006 to 2010, although Juventus supporters will adamantly point out that the Nerazzurri did not actually win their first Scudetto of that time on the pitch.

Well, with four titles in the bag, Juventus now can become the first time to do it twice this coming May. Their journey towards that lofty goal will begin with a home match against Udinese, in a game that on paper at least, should be no trouble for Massimiliano Allegri’s side. The Bianconeri have historically performed well on opening day, with their 53 wins and 182 goals the most out of any other side in Italy. In addition, the Turin giants are yet to lose a game on their home turf, with 33 wins and just seven draws thus far and are looking as the clear favorites to claim all three points, despite the squad having undergone some massive changes this summer.

The departure of star trio Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo, and Arturo Vidal to Boca Juniors, NYCFC and Bayern Munich respectively certainly left a void, both within the squad and in the hearts of Juventus fans worldwide. However, following a successful campaign that saw them make the 2015 Champions League final, the Bianconeri hierarchy are keen to ensure that they will not be just a one-hit wonder as far as European football is concerned and already have spent over €100 million refurbishing their already talent-laden squad.

An exciting mix of young talents such as Paulo Dybala, Daniele Rugani, Neto, and most recently Alex Sandro from Porto and experienced veterans, including World Cup winner Sami Khedira and Champions League winner Mario Mandzukic have all arrived in Turin so far this summer. And new boys Dybala and Mandzukic have endeared themselves to Juventus fans by each netting in the team’s 2-0 win over Lazio in the recent Supercoppa Italiana. Whilst Allegri will have to contend with injuries concerning Khedira, Claudio Marchisio, and Alvaro Morata, the Bianconeri will pose a huge threat as they take on the “other” Bianconeri to commence their title defense.

As for Udinese, the odds could not be more stacked against them. The Zebrette have won only one out of their last eight  season openers, with four draws and three losses to make up the remaining seven. To make matters worse, the visitors have a poor record against their upcoming hosts, with their last win, a 2-1 result, arriving back on January 30, 2011. Last season was one to forget for the team and their supporters, as they lost their last four games and finished in 16th place, a disappointing return for a side that not too long ago were holding their own against the “bigger” clubs for a European football spot.

Andrea Stramaccioni after one season has been replaced by former Atalanta coach Stefano Colatuono, and Udinese, like numerous other teams have waded into this summer’s transfer market. However, the big “acquisition” has arguably been the retention of talismanic striker Antonio Di Natale for yet another season, and Toto, who will turn 38 this October will again lead the line as he hopes to inspire his side that has all the makings of a David vs. Goliath match-up.

With last season’s runner-up Roma having being held to a frustrating draw with Hellas Verona, and other title aspirants including AC Milan, Inter, and Napoli all featuring later in the day, this will represent an excellent opportunity for Allegri’s men to put three points in the bank prior to their mouth-watering clash with the Giallorossi in the next round. Despite the gulf between the two sides, Udinese will certainly not go down without a fight as Juventus stadium plays host to a “Bianconeri Derby” of sorts this Sunday.

Michelle Bonsu

Freelance football journalist based in New York. Primarily support AC Milan as well as the Ghanaian and Italian NT’s, but you’ll find me watching the Bundesliga and Premier League as well–enjoy a good game, regardless of where it’s being played. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of my favourite players.