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BWRAO Mailbag: Light at the end of the tunnel

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The summer break is almost over and we can see some Juventus games on the horizon. Meanwhile, let’s talk borrowing stadiums, right backs and backlashes.

Juventus Official Training & Press Conference

Let’s get right into your questions.

How would you guys feel if Torino wanted to play their European games at the Allianz Stadium? Seems like some in Milan are not taking kindly to Atlanta hosting CL home matches at the San Siro. - Munhumutapa

For those who are not aware of this fun tidbit, with Atalanta finishing third in Serie A last season, they achieved qualification for the Champions League for the first time in club’s history. Atalanta displayed fun, offensively-oriented football with limited resources for the entire season, finishing as the most scoring club in Italy. Definitely the feel-good story of the year in Serie A.

(You might recall this very same Atalanta dismantling Juventus in the Coppa Italia last season. Pushovers, they are not.)

The one problem for Atalanta became their stadium. Located in Bergamo, the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia is an old antiquated pitch, barely suitable for Serie A and definitely not suitable for the bright lights of Champions League play. This is a widespread problem in Serie A, where a majority of the stadiums are either too small, too old or both. Anyway, considering the fact Atalanta’s stadium started undergoing renovations in April and the relative proximity of Bergamo to Milan, it was decided that Atalanta will play their Champions League “home” games at the San Siro, home of AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Inter will also play Champions League football this coming season. However, Milan will not, due to a Financial Fair Play ban by UEFA that meant they were stripped of their place for the upcoming Europa League. Obviously, this has ruffled some feathers with the Rossoneri fans.

Hey, let’s remember an incredible moment in Milan history:

HAHAHAHA. Oh, man, I feel no sympathy for those fools. You will take your FFP ban, watch Atalanta cuckold your own pitch and say nothing. #WeAreSoRich, indeed.

Anyways, I always think these situations are a bit odd. Sure, Bergamo is not super far away from Milan, but they are very much different cities. Will the Atalanta fans be willing to travel to San Siro for a midweek fixture? Maybe — it is the first time Atalanta makes it to the Champions League, and I’m sure a lot of fans will do what they have to do to see their team under the bright light. But I’m equally sure there will be a number of fans that will stay home instead. Not to mention that San Siro is a beast of a stadium with a capacity of 80,000; compare it to Atleti Azzurri d’Italia with a capacity of a bit over 20,000 and it’s not even close. How many Atalanta fans would have to make the trip to make the San Siro look even remotely full? I doubt the city of Milan is doing this just to be good sports, there is definitely a shared revenue plan that comes as part of the loan, probably reducing whatever amount of extra income that Atalanta could have received due to their historic Champions League participation.

My best guess is that the stadium is going to be half full for most of the Atalanta fixtures, with half being Atalanta supporters, a good number of away fans and a solid number of Milan natives who will be either neutral or actively rooting against Atalanta. If this is not a perfect example of how hard it is for small to mid-table clubs to make a leap to the big leagues, I don’t know what is

That was a long way of getting to Munhumutapa’s question, though, so let’s get to it: Torino will play Europa League football this upcoming season, so will we see something similar happen at Allianz Stadium? And if they did, would I care?

Honestly, as a Juve fan, I probably wouldn’t care. The real question is if Torino would even want that — and I think not. Torino plays at a Stadio Olimpico that is getting closer and closer to being open for 15 years, but not nearly as old and small as Atalanta’s stadium. Europa League standards are also lower than Champions League ones, so they have no need to “borrow” a stadium so to speak. Even if they wanted to use the Allianz, with Juventus being the sole owner of the stadium, I bet they would try to gauge them when it comes to ticketing and what not. Plus, with San Siro being property of the state and hosting two teams, it’s a relatively neutral pitch, unlike the Allianz that has Juventus paraphernalia all over the thing. Imagine having to play your games with the entire stadium decked in black and white? Talk about awkward.

Wanted to ask you about Cancelo. It is hard for me to fathom that Juve prefer de Sciglio or Darmian over Cancelo at RB, especially with Sarri at the helm. While frustrating, one could understand Allegri not playing Cancelo, as he did not fit the managers defensive and pragmatic philosophy. In that sense, I would have thought that Sarri would have meant boosting Cancelo’s stock and cementing his position as the No. 1 RB. What are your thoughts? You think he is really leaving? – Jose

We talked about this a bit on the previous mailbag — and look at that! The rumor mill still is a-going. Outside of the initial Manchester City rumor, there hasn’t been another club seriously linked to the young Portuguese right back. I don’t know if that means Cancelo is for sure staying or not, but the rumors have died down considerably, I would say.

As far as Cancelo over de Sciglio and Darmian, I’d agree Cancelo is probably the better player, and I do agree Sarri is an ideal manager to get the best out of him. One International Champions Cup game alone doesn’t prove anything, but he did start and had some flashes against Tottenham last week. My hope continues to be that Juve keep him. A guy with his offensive ability is special considering the aim is to play offensive football, and I cannot imagine a player of his abilities doesn’t have a spot in the roster.

Then again, Juventus has been spending like a first-round draft pick on his birthday, and unless the finances of Juve have changed drastically in the last few years or FIAT and Exxor finally decided to divert an outrageous amount of money into the club, someone is going to have to be sold eventually. Since all the other guys in the chopping block are either old (Mario Mandzukic) not as profitable (Blaise Matuidi) or both (Sami Khedira) my best guess is that Cancelo is the most logical asset to unload.

Silly season is almost close to being done, hopefully we will get some clarity shortly regarding the complete roster for Juventus.

Hot take(s) of the week: The BWRAO mentions

You know how they say that you should never mess with Beyonce on social media because their fans will almost assuredly flood your mentions for having the unmitigated gall to criticize their idol? Well, the CR7 hive is not that far behind I’ll tell you that. After my latest piece went live, both the BWRAO mentions and my own became a quite a spectacle.

I can’t decide which take I liked best — that the blog hated Cristiano Ronaldo in general, that Juventus as a whole will never quite fully appreciate the greatness of Ronaldo or the several people who referred to him as Ronnie, which is just a delightful nickname for a grown ass 34-year-old man. I am partial to a good GIF response, so I really digged the users who replied with the laughing Mike Tyson and Mr. Rogers putting on a clown mask, those are always solid.

There was this one dude who promised to bring the entire blog down, regardless of the money and effort it could take, which I thought was a very measured and reasonable response to a guy writing a post you disagree with. We are still online, so I’m assuming he is still out there engineering his master plan.

(Update: He blocked me. :()

These two were really close to being my favorites, though. I quite like the idea of my hypothetical punishment to be exiled, like we live in the 17th century and I have brought great shame to my family name. Also, announcing you are unfollowing someone because they are stupid is just really funny and we all should announce our unfollows in a similar manner.

The second tweet is not only incomprehensible, a key factor when we discuss severely mad online tweets, but calls me a Bum, which is a grade A insult and severely undervalued.

Nevertheless, my absolute favorite was the following exchange:

Two people having different ideas, understanding each other’s point while still respectfully disagreeing. That’s one unicorn of an exchange on social media; you just don’t see that ever.

Parting Shot of the Week

Now that we are on the subject of that Matthijs de Ligt piece.

There were a couple things that, as the kids say, really rustled my jimmies. No, the article was not intended as clickbait. We run a tight ship here at BWRAO, and while some articles are on the lighter side we never purposefully write a take just to get traffic. It’s fine if you disagree with the take, it’s an opinion after all, I thought I made a decent argument and maybe that didn’t come through. I will always accept if I mess up a take — Mario Lemina stan forever — but I won’t accept being called a hack that writes stuff for the sake of views or just to get a reaction out of people.

And on the topic of Ronaldo himself, he is a great player, I think that’s undeniable. I believe I have written positively about him and negatively as well, as I do for every Juventus player. I have criticized him for taking almost all free kicks — despite missing miserably in every single attempt he had as a Juventus player, very much justifying my criticism — and I also heaped praise on him when he was performing well or even extraordinarily, see Atletico de Madrid tie.

I will not get into Ronaldo as a person, as I believe I have already said my peace on the matter and it’s unlikely many people will change their mind at this point.

CR7 fans, though? Sure, I’ll take quick cheap shot here and there. The way some people see Ronaldo borders on Apotheosis and it’s both fun and worrisome.

Lastly, and the thing that really, deeply got to me was that all those opinions could have so easily been sent to the mailbag! BWRAOmailbag@gmail.com, always open so you can tell me how very wrong I am and I will never fully, totally grasp the totality of CR7 greatness!

Until next week, fellas.