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Thursday October 9 2014
Italy’s black-and-white base

With a large number of Juventus players called up by Antonio Conte, Dave Taylor looks back to the success Italy and the Old lady have had together.

“It’s just like being at home,” said Fabrizio Ravanelli of Juventus after winning his first Azzurri call up in early 1995. The striker had looked around him at Coverciano, noticing many of his club teammates were there. This week at the Italian international training headquarters near Florence it seems nothing much has changed, as another seven Juve players have been called up for the Euro 2016 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Malta.

It isn’t that Ravanelli’s era or Pirlo’s second stint are anything new, as from Aquilani to Zoff no less than 138 Juve players have won caps since 1920. Indeed out of that total, the Bianconeri have provided 22 World Cup winners in five different tournaments, 24 if you count Frenchmen Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps.

For the record, Gianluigi Buffon has won the most with 143, while he has been called up 175 times. The latest and least amount of call-ups belong to Empoli’s Juve-owned defender Daniele Rugani, who may himself have repeated Ravanelli’s phrase before he was recalled by the Under-21s for their crucial play-off game against Slovakia, due to Alessio Romagnoli’s injury.

When Bianconero numbers are up, the omens are in the Azzurri’s favour when it comes to international tournaments, especially the World Cup. For instance in 1934 under Torino-born super Coach Vittorio Pozzo, there were nine World Cup winners from the club, which is still a record.

Stats show that 1938 was the only time the Azzurri won the tournament with less than five Juventini. However, after the Second World War from 1950 to the shameful exit after defeat by North Korea in 1966, both Juve and Italy failed to really ignite. The Old Lady may have won a handful of titles but she was nowhere near as dominating as in her pre-war days. At this time Inter and Milan were conquering Europe and Serie A.

Things started to change in 1968 when the Azzurri, with Juve stars like striker Pietro Anastasi, defender Sandro Salvadore, Ernesto Castano and Giancarlo Bercellino played a massive part in Italy winning the 1968 European Championship. That year Napoli’s Dino Zoff played in goal and following his move to Juve in 1972 he became the archetypal symbol of the affinity between Juve and the national team.

Soon enough Juve players came back into the Azzurri fold and in the 1970s the national team’s backbone was built from the likes of Zoff, Fabio Capello and Franco Causio. The club were right back on the crest of a wave with Cestmir Vycpalek as Coach they won five titles between 1972 and 1978. And with others like Claudio Gentile, Antonio Cuccureddu, Antonio Cabrini, Francesco Morini, Gaetano Scirea, Giuseppe Furino, Sergio Brio, Roberto Boninsegna and Roberto Bettega walking the duel Juve-Italy path, it was a strong Turin contingent that helped the country come third in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

By 1982 with six Juve players - Zoff, Paolo Rossi, Cabrini, Gentile, Scirea and Marco Tardelli - their inborn swagger helped the Azzurri become World Cup winners in Spain. 

Germany 2006 saw Juve provide five players - Fabio Cannavaro, Buffon, Mauro Camoranesi, Alessandro del Piero and Gianluca Zambrotta and in their black, white and blue splendour, the Azzurri stormed through to lift the trophy again.

The tournament that perhaps stands out as bucking the trend is this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Whilst in 2010 the Bianconeri provided six players, it was a struggling club side and a struggling national team. But, four years later under former Juve man Cesare Prandelli, how the Azzurri quite managed to fall to pieces with the nucleus of the three-time Scudetto winners to them remains hard to fathom.

But, with of all men Antonio Conte now in charge and a bright start enjoyed last month, familiarity and faith between Juventus and Italy looks set to flourish once more.

Have your say...
Apart from Bonnuci who in my opinion at best is average that block of Juventus players are ageing rapidly, I feel that the energy in the Juve side comes from Vidal and Pogba.
on the 14th October, 2014 at 9:12pm
What a pity that Italy cannot get the likes of Rocchi to play erm... referee for them.
on the 13th October, 2014 at 1:19pm
come on, Inter have lost more games than that! wona afew too! all teams have.
on the 11th October, 2014 at 12:00pm
inter 1-4 Cagliari, Fiorentina 3-0 inter, maybe Cagliari and Fiorentina have bought the referees.. :p
on the 11th October, 2014 at 1:52am
Funny, there's now an article with Allegri being against video replays LOL, he and Rubentus know full well the introduction of video replay will spell the end of Rubentus buying referees and fixing matches. Rubentus will be back to where they belong, Serie B.
on the 10th October, 2014 at 6:03pm
Yep, this just proves how bad Rubentus actually is. They can buy as many Scudetti as they want, yet they always fail in Europe and Italy has been a joke since 2006.
on the 10th October, 2014 at 3:23pm
How funny, a Milan fan defending Rubentus, not realizing Milan has been just as hurt as other clubs by Rubentus' match fixing and referee buying. Then again Milan has been relegated for match fixing too in the past, so birds of a feather.......
on the 10th October, 2014 at 3:22pm
Ye, and that is why the only thing their 2014 WC campaign will be remembered for is the Suarez bite.The only time Italy wins is by anti-football. It must be hard for the Juve players when the referees are not on their side at international level.
on the 10th October, 2014 at 10:25am
A good Juve often means a good national team...
on the 10th October, 2014 at 9:39am
In fairness Juve are the best run club in Italy and that's why their the most successful and provide the most players to the Azzurri. Milan do their bit. As for Inter…..
on the 10th October, 2014 at 9:24am
@ NO B-MAN MORE GOALS
Please STOP YELLING
on the 10th October, 2014 at 1:55am
Great Article!
on the 9th October, 2014 at 11:07pm
@JuvePalermo, Agree with you on Pirlo but also other Italians have to step and grow some balls and want to command the midfield in order for Conte to have other options. However on d, I think those guys have done their job. You did not see teams thrash Italy in the WC. What you saw is a lack of "attack" not enough goals. You can't go in to games only for tie or to have defense win your games, you got to bring the attack to other teams which Italian teams do not do consistently enough.
on the 9th October, 2014 at 8:30pm
The Juve backbone of bonucci-barzagli-chiellini-Buffon has been very shaky and lacklustre in the world cup. If Conte can get them into shape and working together as a team then we have a decent chance of challenging Germany and France at Euros.
As much as I admire Pirlo's class we need other options in midfield to counter teams that attack at pace and move the ball fast, that has been one of the failures of Juve in Europe recently. We can't make the mistake of building a team around Pirlo.
on the 9th October, 2014 at 7:43pm
AS LONG AS BALOTELLI ISN'T IN THE TEAM I DON'T CARE WHERE THE PLAYERS COME FROM. I WISH THE PAPERS WOULD STOP MAKING A MASSIVE DEAL OF BALOTELLI NOT BEING PICKED, THERE ARE NO EXCUSES FOR HIM TO HIDE BEHIND AT LIVERPOOL THE PRESS LEAVE HIM ALONE, THE TEAM PASS HIM THE BALL, HE DOESN'T RUN IN THE AREA AND BRENDAN ROGERS ISN'T ON HIS BACK AND SURPRISE SURPRISE HE STILL CAN'T SCORE, SO WHY SHOULD PLAYERS LIKE PELLE OR DESTRO NOT BE PICKED FOR BALOTELLI. LIVERPOOL ARE ALREADY LOOKING FOR NEW STRIKER
on the 9th October, 2014 at 6:00pm
Well when you look at teams like napoli who field 1 Italian it's no wonder most of the teams from Juve, Milan have a few which don't start, roma field very few- that may be due to injuries but none the less it's still not good enough, inter have osvaldo (who's italian because Argentina don't want him)- so based on this Conte has very few options to choose from as the rest of serie A is pretty much in the same state. PSG field more Italians than some of our Italian teams!
on the 9th October, 2014 at 5:47pm
yes suck it in serie a fans/ Italian fans. juve is the driving force behind your Italian national team. so enough of the nonsense you bunch of haters and hypocrites!
on the 9th October, 2014 at 5:46pm
ITALJUVE always in action.
on the 9th October, 2014 at 3:28pm

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