Home truths hinder Juve

Juventus FC are going to redevelop their Stadio Delle Alpi home in the hope of replicating some Anfield magic.

By Michael Harrold & Paolo Menicucci

It takes something special to knock Fabio Capello's Juventus FC off their stride, but Liverpool FC supporters seemed to do just that at Anfield last Tuesday.

Wall of sound
Capello had warned of the impact Liverpool's fans might have and his players were given a taste of things to come as they walked out to a deafening chorus of "You'll never walk alone". The minute's silence served as a stark contrast to the wall of sound at kick-off, and Juve were clearly unsettled as Liverpool surged forward, winning a corner before the first minute was out.

'In a daze'
"At Anfield even experienced players can have a bad start because of the excitement of playing in such a stadium," Capello said. "We were constrained, almost in a daze at the start. Pushed by their fans, the Liverpool players were extremely motivated and aggressive. They didn't allow us to play in the first half-hour."

Stunning goals
Adrenalin pumping, Liverpool tore at Juve. Goals from Sami Hyypiä and Luis García raised the decibel levels still further. Liverpool followers, like their team this season, have saved their best for European nights. Their contribution in the early stages shaped a tie many had given Liverpool little chance of winning. "The fantastic atmosphere at Anfield was like an electric shock for Liverpool's players, who started the match at an astonishing tempo," Gazzetta dello Sport wrote. "They seemed unstoppable."

'Fantastic support'
It is almost inconceivable that a side as disciplined, experienced and robotically consistent as Juve should be shaken. They had conceded just one goal in eight Champions League matches before Tuesday. Fabio Cannavaro's second-half goal restored some semblance of normality on an evening that clearly left an impression on the experienced defender. "The way Liverpool fans sing and support the team throughout the game is fantastic," he said. "They behaved really well and they can be an example to follow, starting with the return leg."

'Stadium without soul'
Juventus, however, are unlikely to enjoy the same advantage when these clubs meet again at the "stadio senza anima" - the stadium without a soul - as their home is known. The Delle Alpi, built for the 1990 FIFA World Cup, has never been loved by Juve's 'tifosi'.

Cavernous spaces
Its vast, cavernous spaces are the antithesis to Anfield's packed, compact stands. Its redundant athletics track acts as a barrier to spectators; at Anfield steep rows of seats cascade down to pitchside, pulling supporters into the action. Where once Juve fans marvelled at their team's space-age arena, now they hark back to the old Stadio Comunale and its place, like Anfield, at the heart of the community.

Low attendance
The official capacity is just below 60,000, but Juve expect nothing like that for anything other than the most important Serie A matches when fans flock in from out of town - or for sporadic Turin derbies. It is Torino Calcio who hold the heart of most Torinesi, not the Bianconeri.

New stands
But it does not take a trip to Anfield to bring the problem to the attention of Juve's directors, and by the time Liverpool next play in Turin they could be in for an entirely different experience. Plans have been drawn up to reduce the capacity of the Delle Alpi to 40,000, with new stands built on the athletics track inside the existing futuristic bowl. Like in English stadiums, seats will hug the touchline.

Facelift
The Delle Alpi's facelift should be complete by 2007 - by then perhaps Juve too could gain a real advantage from playing at home.

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