Alas, the holidays are upon us.
Families gather together to squabble, quibble, and nibble, to indulge in ridiculous traditions and overindulge in libations. Whether you love or disdain this time of year, you cannot but admit that, just like Juventus, it’s not without its drama!
As we prepare to host my family this year — I’ve got Barolo aplenty, a whole duck to smoke, and some skis to break in — my wife has done her best to convince me to dive head-first into the spirit of things (let’s just say that, in the past, I have not been the first guy to buy a tree and hang the lights).
So here, my dear Bianconeri friends, is my best endeavor: classic characters and family gathering tropes, likened to our valiant players.
Lift your glass to the holidays.
THE CHARACTERS GROUP
John McClane: Dušan Vlahović
He’s mad, he’s got muscles, and he has one job to do.
The Grinch: Bremer
Every time the opposition thinks they have a gift-wrapped chance, an opportunity to enjoy something and just bask in the goodness of it, Bremer, like the Grinch, is there to snatch that joy away.
May his joy-snatching persist for many, many moons in this shirt.
Santa Claus: All the goalkeepers
As I wrote a few days ago, I think Juventus have the best goalkeeper room on the planet. All three fellas are just the bombest guys you could imagine, in very different ways. If any one of us could select one unit on this team to hang out with, who among us would not choose the goalies? These three are the gift that keeps on giving, on and off the pitch.
I also felt like giving three guys the Santa designation will help in their global quest to deposit goodies underneath trees.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Moise Kean
People are mean to Rudolph, they overlook him, but Rudolph plays an important role.
The much-maligned youngster is just that: much-maligned. But it seems like when he steps onto the pitch lately, he scores goals, AKA gets the sled going. You can dislike Max Allegri all you want, but his vocal and steady faith in Kean is a gem of a trait.
Run Rudolph, run.
Buddy the Elf: Federico Chiesa
Off-the-charts energy. I honestly would not be surprised if Freddy Church eats spaghetti with syrup every morning with the way he buzzes around the pitch. He makes people smile. He makes things go.
Walter, Buddy the Elf’s grumpy dad: Leonardo Bonucci
He’s a central part of the story, and he eventually comes around to do some good, but he’s too old and too crotchety to be of much use other than a placeholder for most of the narrative. Still, you can’t help but feel a little warm and fuzzy when he does bring himself around.
Harry and Marv, the bad guys from Home Alone: Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria
They’re in the story — sort of. You get the feeling these characters are just along for the ride, not really playing any sort of meaningful role in the proceedings.
Kevin McCallister: Nicolò Fagioli
Youthful, talented, and ready to inflict pain on the bad guys. Yeah, this one was a gimme.
THE FAMILY MEMBERS TROPE GROUP
The person who is back for the first time in a long time and starting family drama: Paul Pogba
The person who’s had a little too much spiked eggnog and is starting to lose it: Juan Cuadrado
You love Uncle Juan — you really do!
He’s been a part of the family for a really long time. He’s got some really hilarious jokes. He’s uncannily good at dancing. He’s sneakily talented at a whole bunch of activities your family ends up doing over the holidays (board games, charades, cornhole if it’s balmy), but lately Uncle Juan seems . . . a little wayward. You think someone put a little too much Happy Juice in the eggnog.
The person with really good taste in wine: Manuel Locatelli
If your family doesn’t have this person, you suffer with Cupcake Chardonnay and Kirkland Cabernet. Maybe most people in your family will be perfectly OK with this (you turn your nose up at their crude palates), but you, my friend, you require something better.
Locatelli — my suave, recently married midfielder friend — decked in Italian designer clothes and holding that bottle of Barbaresco with a smoldering look beneath his curly locks, is here to help you.
The person who thinks they have good taste but their house is garishly decorated with lights but they still throw a very good Christmas party: Weston McKennie
One day, I’d love to be the person with a really dazzling, tasteful display of Christmas lights on my house. But here’s the thing: I don’t want it to be ugly or half-assed. That rules out doing it myself, because I’m not going to spend the time required to be skilled enough. And I don’t want to pay for it! I’m between a rock and a hard place on this.
Weston, though, does have the money to pay for it, but, to level with you, I feel like he may go overboard whilst commissioning the lights. Lots of color, lots of glam, lots of flashing things. But while the lights or sense of fashion might be a bit too much for me and you, we all know this guy would throw a holiday rager. What better time to cut loose for a night than December?
The person your aunt married who you barely know but you think you kind of like: Arkadiusz Milik
He’s new to the family; you’re still trying to figure him out. But the string of first impressions certainly could’ve been worse.
The person who basically has one job which is to cook so they’re always in the kitchen and that’s essentially the only place you see them over several days: Filip Kostić
Lots and lots of dishes arriving constantly, served up on a silver platter. That’s our Serbian winger friend, right there.
The person who’s always looking at their phone: Adrien Rabiot
He’s probably wearing skinny jeans and a beanie that cost $149, and he’s just looking at his phone the whole time (it has 12 camera lenses on it; he’s got the iPhone 19 before anyone else). Nobody in your family thinks he’s very cool, but he talks about how, one time in Paris, he was at a nightclub and sat at a table with Jay-Z, and he mentions some impossibly detailed memory for the night (“Jay-Z chewed Orbit Winter Mint gum”) to try to prove the veracity of the claim; you have your doubts.
The person you try to get into a conversation with in a crowded room because they are a safe haven in the uncertain, precarious, holiday chaos: Danilo
We can have the Cancelo vs. Danilo debate all day around and around and around until we’re on the verge of punching each other in the face, but I feel like we can agree on this: Danilo is a safety blanket for this Juventus, and over the holidays, safety blankets are worth their weight in gold.
Your mom starts bearing down on you about your love life? Safety blanket. Your dad starts asking you about your job situation? Safety blanket. Your weird cousin wants to do donuts in the snow in his Jeep that has a never-been-used winch? SAFETY BLANKET.
Always go for the safety blanket!
The person you almost literally forgot was in your family: Daniele Rugani & Mattia De Sciglio
You walk into the Big Gathering on the Big Day, grab whatever drink most suits you, and scan the room. Your eye stops for a moment, on a couple of figures loitering near the appetizer serving area. “Oh my goodness,” you think to yourself. “I forgot about them!”
The person everyone else dislikes and talks bad about but whom you kind of like: Alex Sandro
Alex Sandro has been a punching bag of late ... well, honestly, for the last couple of seasons. But I like him!
The gaggle of little kids you fail to notice until they break something or do something remarkable: Fabio Miretti, Marley Aké, Kaio Jorge, Matías Soulé, and Federico Gatti
I feel like every big gathering worth its salt has people of varying ages, and within that variance there are a number of parents, and within that number of parents there are a number of children of varying ages. These children, who do not see each other terribly often, are therefore stoked into energetic, primitive displays of showmanship to determine the pecking order. With “Feliz Navidad” playing in the background and a dubious cocktail called a “Naughty Elf” in your glass made by Aunt [insert name], you don’t even notice the gaggle until the runner on the dining room table gets yanked from the surface and onto the ground, with a great big clattering of flatware and candles and old Bavarian decor.
Well, there you have it, friends.
I hope you and your family and friends or whoever you hang out with at this time of year have the absolute best time, drama-free and full of full bellies. I hope, too, that Juventus are expediently exonerated of all the off-field things; I hope that, even if the process is protracted and lengthy, the lads can enjoy themselves on the pitch and give us all the wonderful gift of winning in 2023.