clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Getting to Know the Old Lady of Italian Football

New, comments

The season may only be four weeks old, but this could already be the match of the entire season. With unbeaten Roma and unbeaten Juve squaring off Sunday in Turin, we extended the olive branch to our friends at BWRAO to shed some light on this rivalry.

Kevin C. Cox

When you choose to hitch your wagon to a football club, you take everything that comes with it; the past, the present, the pain, the pleasures, and even the animosities. We hate Lazio because, well, that's what we're supposed to do; it was in your HR packet the first day, so it isn't up for debate. Deal with it. In fact, you should Revel in it.

Lazio is far from Roma's only nemesis, however, and the extent to which one assimilates certain animosities into one's subconscious depends, in part, on when one came to the club. If you're anything like me and you became a serious fan approximately a decade ago, hatred knows no greater name than Inter Milan. Or, let's say, you became a fan on one specific day, and for shits and giggles, let's say that day was September 16, 2008; you've probably grown to hate Cluj, the tiny Romanian club that defeated Roma in the Champions League that fateful night.

But, for reasons emotional, historic and contemporary, you probably, at the very least, don't like Juventus very much. However, if you can peel back the veneers of your vengeance, you might see they're not terribly different from you and I; they have the same disdain for all things EPL, they share the same hopes and the same dreams, albeit with a much larger margin for error.

With that in mind, Danny Penza, my compatriot at Black, White and Read All Over, and I engaged in some digital détente in an attempt to calm this resurgent rivalry, and also to shed a bit of light on our respective state of affairs. I think you'll find his thoughts into the state of the Old Lady quite insightful, and even somewhat relatable.

My ex post facto comments have been added where applicable.

1. First and foremost, how are you all coping with Allegri? What has he done differently? Is he in anyway better than Conte?

Danny: Starting the season in this kind of fashion has eased a little bit of my preseason worries when it comes to Mad Max. And I'm sure a lot of other Juventini would say the same kind of thing. Obviously it's still early and a lot of things can happen from now until the end of the Champions League group stage and the Christmas break. But he's basically kicked that whole "Allegri teams start the season really, really slow" notion right in the stomach and then given it a Stone Cold stunner for good measure. Well, Atléti loss on Wednesday night aside.

Is Allegri as good as Conte? Clearly not, or else he probably wouldn't have been available at the end of July in the first place. But I'm not as freaked out as I was six or eight weeks ago when it comes to Allegri managing Juventus. He's come into a pretty rocky situation and seemingly just calmed the waters. That says something about the kind of personality he has along with everything else.

Bren: We came close to employing Allegri, and, while he's a decent enough coach, I think we're all happy with Roma's decision, but as an Azzurri fan, it will be nice to finally root for Conte.

2. Be honest, how viable a threat do Juve fans perceive Roma to be?

Danny: Personally, I think Roma's definitely a viable threat, but I'm not going to speak for everybody who has bianconero running through their veins. I think a lot of people respect the fact that Roma have been constructed very well over the last few years under the new regime. And outside of selling Mehdi Benatia (which seemed like a foregone conclusion in the days leading up to it), I loved Roma's transfer window - and not just because they signed a couple of players that were linked to Juve at the same time. They have really constructed their squad well, and as we've seen so far this year, they're showing they can hang in Europe, too.

Bren: Finally, some begrudging respect, it's amazing what a little bit of money and actual long term planning can do for a club, isn't it?

3. Just out of curiosity, how does one become a Juventus fan? Is it the history? Family lineage? Do you just like stripes?

Danny: It's different for everybody, really. Some of it is because it runs in the family, others because it's where their family is from. Or, for people like me, they starting rooting for a player and then it just snowballs into a closet full of black and white jerseys. You know, suddenly you see a highlight of Gigi Buffon doing awesome things, he signs for Juventus a few months later and then the rest is history. A mixed bag of answers, I'd say.

Bren: This is the part where we gnash our teeth over Roma's near capture of Gigi. C'est la vie, I suppose. Keeper was seldom Roma's glaring weakness, but, man, having Buffon behind Mexes, Juan, Perrotta and DDR would've been fantastic. It's odd in some respects, especially given their massive haul of domestic trophies, but for those of us outside of Europe, was Juve even the first Italian team you were familiar with? For me, it was AC Milan. I didn't know anything about them, but the fact I knew of their existence spoke volumes about their clout. My how times have changed.

4. Give me one internal and one external reason why Juve won't make it four in a row?

Danny: An internal reason? Probably Allegri doing something stupid because there's always going to be that little sense of doubt in the back of my head no matter how much of an internal optimist I am. I've always thought along the lines of "Juventus have a good enough squad that Allegri can't really screw it up unless he tries really hard," and I still stand by that notion. His start has been great, and, like I said, exceeded all of my early-season expectations. We'll see how things go in the Champions League, but so far so good.

External ... I'd say Roma just continue to do what they've done thus far and match Juve win for win. Maybe one week Juve slip up and drop points, and Roma just march on through to the top of the table and on from there. But it's hard to say at this point because so many teams in the top half of the table look good one weekend and then get blasted by Zeman's Cagliari the next.

Bren: Admit it, Roma fans; this pleases you on multiple levels.

5. Let's stay on the same side here, which team do you think is the most likely to threaten Roma and Juve near the top of the table?

Danny: The way things are right now, I really have no idea. This time last season we thought Napoli might make it a three-team battle, then they just completely fell off the face of the earth and finished third. There's a clear gap between Juventus and Roma and then the next tier of teams that will vie for the European spots. So I guess in that sense, the answer is pretty simple. "Nah."

Bren: Hard to argue with that logic, though I'm sure Danny would admit that we're all a bit afraid of what will happen once Inter truly buys into Mazzarri's tactics.

6. Okay, five years from now, you can only keep one, who ya got: Kingsley Coman or Paul Pogba?

Danny: I'm going with Pogba for the simple fact that Coman has played less than 90 minutes so far this season, while Pogba has just become an absolute force of nature since he joined Juve a little over two years ago. Don't get me wrong, I do think Coman has the talent to become a very good player, Pogba is already there. His career arc is just insane. He's 21 years old and already accomplished so much. The physical tools are clearly there, and will only get better as he enters his mid-20s, but what has impressed me most about Pogba this season is that you can see he's really starting to become a leader in this squad. Buffon, Pirlo, Marchisio and the more experienced veterans are always going to play huge rolls as long as they're in Turin. But Pogba is maturing before our eyes.

Maybe my opinion will change in time. I just need to see more of young Kingsley to really see what he's all about. The sample size is just too small right now to form a definite opinion on him.

Bren: I just hope they sell Pogba, case closed. I don't want to have to deal with him for the next decade.

See? Your average Juventus fan isn't so bad, right?

We'll have our standard preview coming up, but this match sold out in the blink of an eye and given their imminent collision at the top of the table, this could quite possibly be Roma's biggest Serie A match in years.