Three years and eight months. That’s how long we’ve been waiting for a Derby della Mole. That wait will finally come to an end this Saturday evening, with the first edition in the derby’s 105 year history to be played at the Juventus Stadium.
I’d like to say how much we’ve all missed it. But unless you support either club, the truth is you probably haven’t. The Mole is the equal of the Madonnina and Capitale derbies in terms of history and tradition, but in terms of competitiveness and excitement, the most recent editions have been sadly lacking.
Torino haven’t beaten Juventus since April 1995. Just three goals have been scored in the last four derbies – three 1-0 Juve wins and a goalless draw. But before you decide to do something foolish with your Saturday night, such as socialising, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that this game will be different. Indeed, the simple fact that Turin has been starved of its derby for so long almost guarantees it.
Firstly, Juventus are no longer invincible. To describe them as vulnerable would be pushing it, but a run of one win in four Serie A games is certainly abnormal for Antonio Conte’s side. Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Milan has prompted questions and resurrected everyone’s favourite, in-no-way tedious polemic about their lack of a ‘top player’ up front.
Then there’s the fact that to take something from Saturday’s game would be typical of Giampiero Ventura’s Toro. The Serie B runners up have managed to lose most of the games they’ve been expected to win since returning to the top flight, yet proved surprisingly strong against the big clubs and in away games. The Granata have lost just once on their travels and held Lazio, Napoli and Fiorentina to draws in recent weeks.
The fixture should also provide plenty of intrigue from a tactical perspective, pitting Conte’s 3-5-2 against Ventura’s 4-2-4. Conte was also fond of the audacious 4-2-4 in the past, hence Bari’s decision to replace him with Ventura when he left the Apulian outfit in 2009.
The Derby della Mole has borne witness to some brilliant and bizarre happenings over the years, from Torino founder Alfredo Dick being locked in the dressing room by Juve during the very first meeting to gunfire breaking out in a ‘friendly’ between the two that took place shortly after the end of World War II.
We’re unlikely to see anything quite like that on Saturday, but hopefully we will see the dawn of a new era, when Turin derbies are a lot better to watch, and a lot harder to predict.