In the last decade, the Coppa Italia has perhaps been worth just as much as a plastic cup to Juventus. The bianconeri, along with other bigger sides, preferred to rest their star players in the competition. It has more or less been an opportunity to give to those who haven’t enjoyed much playing time, possibly even testing some youngsters from the primavera squad. It wasn’t just the matter of who’s on the pitch though. Even when playing with a relatively strong starting XI, players seemed to care less about the whole deal, too.
This is probably, and possibly, the only explanation as to why the most successful football club in Italy haven’t lifted this trophy since 1995. Some fans may argue that it is better to concentrate on the campionato, especially with the league being a very open one this season. This season, however, Juventus seemed to be taking this competition more seriously as they fielded one of the strongest possible starting XI against Catania. The only rested player in that game for Juve was Alberto Aquilani, but even he had to come on the pitch to replace the injured Luca Toni. Had this current Juve side had the same mentality of ‘giving up’ this competition, we wouldn’t have seen Milos Krasic play full time that game. I’d like to point out why Juventus must continue to take this competition very seriously.
Alex Del Piero, 20 years old, with the Coppa Italia..
Winning is good!
It’s simple. Nobody likes to lose. Even if some Juve fans were ‘glad’ that the Old Lady crushed out of the less prestigious Europa League, I’m sure they weren’t celebrating it like they did on 5 May 2002. Winning a match is always better than losing one. Winning a trophy is even better.
“YES! I’m so happy we’re out of this useless competition!”
It’s ‘easier’ to win
Having already defeated Catania, Juventus are in the quarterfinals of the competition. This means there are only 3 games left to play including the Final as they are not playing 2-legged ties anymore. It’s true that the bianconeri, to reach the Final, have to overcome Roma first and defeat the eventual winners between Napoli and Inter, both of whom are not easy teams to face. But it takes 38 games to win the league. It takes 4 games to win the Coppa Italia and Juve are already one down, three to go.
La ‘terza’ stella?
Before the start of the 2009-10 season, Jean-Claude Blanc, who was then the president of Juventus, (controversially for some) said that should the bianconeri win the scudetto, they will add the third star. March 2010, not one person was talking about the third star or the 30th scudetto as his ‘Newventus’ project failed miserably and ended up fighting (although there was not really any fighting from the players) for the 4th place. The third star, however, could just arrive from winning this underappreciated competition. Juve, along with Roma, have won the Coppa Italia 9 times, and should they win it for the 10th time for the first time in history of Italian football, they could award la stella d’argento, the silver star, to themselves. It may not be gold, but it still will be Juve’s third.
Leading the tradition
The first ever team in Italy to attach la stella d’oro, the gold star, to their shirts were Juventus, as they secured their 10th scudetto at the end of the 1957-1958 season. However, the truth is, nobody ‘forces’ a team to attach the star. This is purely a club’s decision to do so and that’s why FIGC President Giancarlo Abete, following Blanc’s ‘third star’ quote, said “There’s nothing we can do about it if Juve decide to add the third star.” Therefore, it would be fair to say that Juventus, as the first club to win 10 scudetti, started the tradition of adding a star, which clubs like Milan and Inter followed later on. Juventus could start this new ‘tradition’ of adding a silver star to the team kit for winning ten Coppa Italia titles, and other clubs will follow this tradition led by the Old Lady.
Totti, “Ragazzi, enjoy it NOW because we’re not doing this again at least until Juve do it first!”
Starting a winning cycle.
It’s been a very long time without a trophy for Juventus. And the longer this drought continues the harder it may get to end it. All it takes is a trophy. Any trophy (I’m not talking Trofeo Berlusconi). History has it that it took a single trophy for Juventus to start the domestic and continental dominance they once boasted, the best example being Dino Zoff’s 1989-1990 side. It’s true that side won the UEFA Cup as well, but for this current Juventus side (where ‘Juventus’ actually means youth), winning the Coppa Italia could kick start a new era, a new ‘winning’ cycle. Young players like Marchisio, De Ceglie and Bonucci, who haven’t won honours at top level, need to know what winning a competition feels like and learn what victory tastes like. That kind of experience doesn’t just come as the players get older. It comes as the players start winning trophies, whether it be the Coppa Italia or the Europa League. Winning this competition that nobody seems to care about will definitely instill the winning mentality back to Juventus, and it will be an invaluable asset as Juventus launch a more serious scudetto bid next season.