The last time I went to see a Juventus men’s team game live in Turin was on Jan. 22, 2006 — Juventus versus Empoli. It was a big deal back then to go a game, but my friend was somehow able to get us tickets (grazie, Diego!!). I took a train from Cuneo and then my cousin picked me up and drove me to a tram stop in Turin to get to the stadium (grazie, Stella!). Back then, Juventus was still playing in the Stadio Delle Alpi, which was built for the 1990 World Cup and served as Juventus and Torino’s stadium afterwards until 2006.
That chilly day in January, the tram to the stadium was packed with Juventus supporters, and I was filled with nervous excitement. It was also my first Serie A game and, needless to say, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go!
Also unsurprising, not a single player on the pitch that day in 2006 is still on the team today, with the closest being Gianluigi Buffon.
We had pretty good seats behind one of the goals, about halfway up if my memory serves me right, and it was a great game. I remember that Juventus won and that Fabio Cannavaro scored two goals, both of which coming on headers. Rewatching the highlights now, I see that Empoli also scored an early goal, but I have no recollection of it, even though it was a pretty decent goal. It was Cannavaro’s first (and only) brace in his career. I was just thinking about those goals the other day when I saw Cannavaro on a TIM (cellular phone company) commercial …
Now, almost 20 years later in 2023, I was going to another Serie A game, this time with Juventus facing Cagliari. Pretty much everything was different: the players, the coach, the stadium, mode of transportation, as well as the getting the tickets.
Purchasing tickets was somehow more complicated this time around. To start, I have a Juventus membership, but when I went to try to get the tickets online, my membership number would not work. I was able to get around that by creating another account specifically for buying tickets and selecting that I did not have a Juventus membership. However, when I went to select seats, no matter if I had been on the site for only one minute, it said that my time to select tickets had expired. So then I wrote to the Juventus help email and waited a day ... they did not write back. I went back to trying online and I don’t know why but when I switched to using my iPad, I was able to get the tickets! (And by the way, about a week later I got an auto-response from the help email saying that they received my message and they would get back to me as soon as they could, but they have not gotten back to me as of yet.)
The seats I was able to get did not seem the best — in the upper corner pretty close to the visitors’ section (if you are curious, they were in 111 Tribuna Est Laterale Primo Anello) — but they were what I could get when I finally was able to get tickets. For transportation, a friend gave me the contact information of the Juventus Cuneo club saying they organize a bus that goes directly from Cuneo to the Allianz Stadium. I sent them a message and they promptly replied (grazie, Massimo!) and I reserved seats on the bus.
On game day, I put on one of my favorite Juventus jerseys (which just happens to be one with Paulo Dybala on the back, but that part gets covered by my jacket), grabbed my old Juventus scarf, and we were off to catch the bus at the Grand Bar in Cuneo. I was not quite sure what to expect — would the bus be filled by young, rowdy men like the tram to the stadium was almost 20 years ago? Nope. There was a diversity of fans on the bus — young and old, families, including nonnas! There was even a super nice lady that baked everyone Juventus-shaped cookies!
As we pulled up to the stadium, my stomach did a little flip — my first time seeing the Juventus (Allianz) Stadium in person! The atmosphere was electric — the surrounding area was packed with cars, people, food trucks and gear vendors. People were shouting (especially when the news came through that the Milan game against Lecce was ending with Olivier Giroud getting a red about to be a draw), cars were honking, the sun was just starting to set — it was gorgeous.
We had to walk quite a way to get to our entrance gate, and we walked with a family from the bus that had tickets close to us — a father with his 5-year-old daughter and his brother and nephew that had flown up from Sicily for the game. He explained as we maneuvered through the throngs of peoples, that our walk was made even further because we couldn’t go the most direct way due to our seats being close to the visitor section and they don’t want fans mixing (reasonably so). When we eventually got to the gate, there was a long line to show our ticket and photo ID, followed by metal detectors and bag checks, and then we had to scan our ticket again to get through the turnstile.
Finally inside the stadium, we made our way up to our seats as the teams were warming up on the field. I was happy to see that our seats weren’t that bad! We had a narrow metal supporting pole in our line of vision, but it was not a big deal.
The visitors’ section with Cagliari fans was not full, but the rest of the stadium filled up and the ultras were packed in singing and waving their flags.
I shut my eyes and tried to remember the game in 2006 that I went to and what might be different now. I think the thing that came to mind the most was the demographics of the fans. It is way more diverse with regards to age and gender now. Oh, and the light show — there was none of that in 2006.
As we waited for the players to come back out on the field, we made lineup predictions and predicted final scores — my predicted lineup was almost perfect, but I had Dušan Vlahović in up top instead of Moise Kean. My predicted final score was 3-1 Juve, my friend’s was 1-0 Juve (a bit more pragmatic). I was almost right!
I won’t summarize the game here — Danny and the other guys did a great job at that as always — but I will provide my highlights:
- One of my favorites, Weston McKennie, playing and his nifty move at the end of the first half to get out of pressure in the midfield.
- Juventus scoring the first goal (obviously) and the crowd jumping up and down in unison.
- Daniele Rugani scoring because I have always liked him and am happy he is getting playing time.
- Getting to sing Storia di un Grande Amore (twice!) at the top of my lungs with a whole stadium (instead of by myself with Paramount+ cutting it short and/or speaking over it).
Other observations, not highlights per se, were:
- The security person almost took my Juventus scarf from me when I was entering the stadium! She looked over it for several minutes mumbling that it was problematic, but luckily when she asked another guard about it, they said it was fine. I am not entirely sure why, but I think it might be due to the stadium rules and what can and cannot be written on scarves (see l. on page 2). Is Dino Zoff on the GOS blacklist? (see below — and for reference the other side says S. Rocco Castagnaretta — Cuneo on it). If anybody has a better idea, let me know.
- The fans whistling over the entire Serie A anthem before the game started, something that has been a regular thing ever since the original points penalty was handed down last season.
- Cagliari fans throwing half full (albeit plastic) glasses of beer over the tall plexiglass separators several times (I did not get hit!) and the Juve fans responding with angry words and hand gestures.
- The VIP seats emptying out within seconds at the end of first half — I guess they all were going inside to eat and drink fancy stuff? — and not filling up until the second half was well underway (were they even there to watch the game?).
Then and Now
Overall, I think the first game that I went to in 2006 at the Stadio delle Alpi was just a bit more magical, perhaps because back then it seemed so impossible to actually be able to go to a game, but all in all, my experience this second time was pretty awesome. Also, apparently when I go to Juventus games we win 2-1 with only center backs scoring (sample size of 2). So expect a 2-1 victory over Roma with Federico Gatti and Danilo scoring when I go to my next game at the end of December. I will just have to decide if I should wear my Dybala Juventus jersey again or not …