It has been a weepy day. I was watching a retrospective of last season and they reminded me that Davide Astori died.
A beautiful man, a wonderful defender, and a person of great character, gone way too soon for no good reason. So I cried for him a little, again.
Then I decided to take Lucy to the dog park. We almost never go because she doesn’t really like to socialize with other dogs, but it had been raining and I figured no one would be there so it would give an opportunity to wander around off-leash and do some hardcore sniffing, which is what she’s built for. The route to the dog park takes me within 2 blocks of the house. I really really miss that house. I haven’t been by there since October 2015, when I took my Christmas ornaments. I started wondering whether they’d made any improvements and then I started remembering the improvements I wanted to make, and then I started to cry again.
And the dog park was nearly empty, but after a while, there was a group of about 4 big yellow dogs and 1 little yellow dog and they started running around and roughhousing and it reminded me of how Tiki used to infiltrate groups of big dogs to stir things up and then, when they were all good and rambunctious, he’d run off with his little linebacker body and hide under one of the picnic tables. And so I cried again.
And all that leads me back to the 2011-12 season, which I call the 1st Scudetto Year, because it was for me. I started watching Juve when they were trying to come back from relegation after Calciopoli. They were crap back then. So the 1st Scudetto Year was, for me, the first year they won anything.
This is one of my favorite Juve photos ever. It s the first match of the season, the first match in the new stadium, and ADP has just scored a goal and provoked a manpile. Such joy there!
So the 1st Scudetto Year was special because it was ADP’s last year.
It was also the year of beginnings. New stadium, of course. I went on record in a podcast as Not Caring about the stadium, but I was wrong.
It was the year we finally got a proper coach in Antonio Conte.
It was the year Juve signed Stephan Lichtsteiner from Lazio, and he scored the first goal in the new stadium. Juve also brought in Arturo Vidal, Martin Caceres (who had been there before on a loan, but this time for real), Mirko Vucinic, Simone Pepe, Fabio Quagliarella, and Alessandro Matri. Oh, and Andrea Pirlo. For free. Hahahahahahahahaha!
Ale Matri scored 10 goals in Serie A, which led the team, and he won his first of three scudetti with the zebes. In those early years (“early” being relative, obviously), Juventus didn’t have quite the clout it has now, and that first year in particular, Juve wasn’t in any of the European competitions. That makes it hard to attract top talent. Real Madrid was never going to knock on Ale’s door, and after he left Juve, he never achieved quite the same success again. Ale did yeoman’s work and earned the respect and love of the tifosi.
Mirko Vucinic had 9 league goals and 1 Coppa Italia goal. I remember him most as erratic, inconsistent, and nuts, which this photo captures pretty well.
Anti-Mirkonism is one of my quirks. People without this affliction will tell you that he was strikingly creative and capable of breathtaking brilliance. They’re right. Mirko was there for three scudetti, and we couldn’t have won any of those three without him.
There was some good housecleaning that year. Eljero Elia came in a flash of publicity, ran his mouth in a torrent of arrogance, sucked, and went away. Vincenzo Iaquinta was exiled and eventually left. Fabio Grosso and Milos Krasic played their last season. Amauri went away during the winter transfer window and plied his brand of suckage elsewhere.
Back to good news, Claudio Marchisio scored a career-high 10 goals. Best of all, in the last match of the season against Atalanta, someone had to take a penalty, and the curva demanded: BARZAGLI! BARZAGLI! BARZAGLI! Until he trotted up from way back in Gigi-land and took the PK, cool as you like.
Oh how I love him.