Juventus – Inter Live from the JOFC Hollywood

25, 5, 67 – A Juventus Tale

25, like the members of JOFC Hollywood gathered in front of the big screen, 5, like those present in the Allianz Stadium stands, 67, like the age difference between Dr. Domenico, a worthy representative of the Capitolina hunchbacked column, and Massimo, the youngest among us. 25, 5, 67, not a lottery pick on the Turin wheel, these are the numbers of our Derby d’Italia. The match needs no further motivation. We challenge the recyclables, those who self-proclaim to hold the true values of football, the guardians of the ball. As if the inevitable interviews with Pagliuca, Galante, and Colonnese weren’t enough, we must once again see a familiar face among the opposing ranks, this year in the form of Panita Cuadrado. However, there’s something different this time: the Derby d’Italia is for the top spot in the standings.

I sense among us the desire to measure ourselves, to understand if we can really stand where we belong, to discover who we are to imagine who we will become. These thirteen matchdays have offered a Juventus with different identities: open and proactive as against Lazio and Verona, closed and cynical against Milan and Torino. Today, we face a solid, deep, and confident team. We, on the other hand, are a collage of pseudo-injured, debutants, and reserves turned starters. If the defense has not suffered excessively from Danilo’s injury thanks to Rugani’s contribution, in midfield, Hans Nicolussi Caviglia makes his debut, McKennie returns as a midfielder, and Cambiaso takes the right flank. On the bench, there’s Locatelli with a broken rib and the battered Miretti. “If Hans breaks, Padoin comes in,” we joke – maybe – in the chat. As much as we don’t like to admit it, I’m convinced that a Bulgarian majority of those present would settle for a good draw, myself included.

Kick-off. I have the honor of sitting next to Dr. Domenico, who, with his experience, displays an enviable calm. We, less civilized, after a few minutes, have already reserved affectionate thoughts for referee Guida, Barella, Lautaro, and their families. Despite the lineup, Juventus is proactive in the first 20 minutes. A Chiesa-Rabiot combination brings Cambiaso to the conclusion. Shortly after, Chiesa misses a penalty in motion. Nicolussi has settled in, and Vlahović growls. At the 25th minute, Vlahović steals the ball from Dumfries, unloads to Chiesa, who targets Darmian and serves a return bonbon for Dušan, who just has to tap it in. And here even the impassive Dr. Domenico lets go: hands to the sky and then straight to embrace his son Francesco. A few rows behind, even Massimo and his dad John hug tightly. I can’t see them, but I’m sure Camillo and his daughter Lauryn are celebrating too. The President, after temporarily recomposing himself, points out the incredible resemblance to Rabiot’s goal against Inter last season. He doesn’t remember what he had for dinner, but on Juventus goals, he’s encyclopedic!

1-0 for us. Perhaps settling for a draw is reductive? No, 6 minutes, and the enthusiasm subsides. Rugani makes a “frog-like” exit – as the Got declares behind me – Bremer accompanies Thuram without ever closing in, and Gatti loses track of Lautaro’s movement. 1-1. Allegri will say in the post-match: “we should have fouled earlier,” and many of those present agree. Now they push, and we play it safe: everyone under the ball, and woe to concede the second before halftime. At the resumption of play, it becomes clear that both teams don’t want to lose. A draw is an acceptable result: Milan, Napoli, and Roma are relatively distant, Inter has understood that even a patched-up Juve can be dangerous, and our short bench makes us vulnerable. The teams wait, no one wants to expose themselves. Just enough time to note how Panita’s acrobatics have transformed from blatant simulations into clear fouls suffered, and the triple whistle blows. A quick look among those present makes me understand that I was right; a good draw is fine for us too. We wanted to measure ourselves, and we did. We’re not second by chance; with the right mentality and a less crowded infirmary, we can go all the way.

It’s time for the group photo, followed by early wishes for the holidays. Thanks to Serie A’s bizarre schedule – why do we play three consecutive Friday matches? – and the inevitable ritual of “going home for the holidays” that every immigrant knows well, we’ll meet again in 2024, always here, always together, always proudly hunchbacks.

Edoardo Mazza –  JOFC Hollywood


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