Juventus greeted by 500 fans in Sydney
Updated: 2014-08-08 15:11
Juventus soccer team goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon gives a thumbs-up to fans following a news conference at the Sydney Opera House August 8, 2014. Juventus will play a match against Australian A-league All-Stars in Sydney on August 10. [Photo/Agencies]
CANBERRA - Hundreds of football fans swarmed Sydney Airport on Friday to catch a glimpse of their favorite Juventus players as they touched down in Australia for their A- League All-Stars match on Sunday.
About 500 fans draped in Juventus playing shirts crowded the international terminal as early as 3:30 am local time to get a good vantage point for the Italian club's arrival at 6 am.
Chairman Andrea Agnelli was the first to duck his head into the public gallery at 6:40 am, and 20 minutes later the players made their way through a mob of excited fans, most of whom were desperate for a 'selfie' with their idols.
Following the lead of English giants Manchester United and Liverpool, who last year played exhibition matches in Sydney and Melbourne, respectively, Juventus have made the trip to Australia this week for a practice hit-out ahead of the new Serie A season in Italy.
And leading the A-League All-Stars will be a face familiar to all Juve supporters the former bianconeri captain and team talisman, 39-year-old Alessandro Del Piero.
Del Piero will play against his beloved club for the first and almost certainly only time in his life when he leads the A-League team out of the tunnel at ANZ Stadium.
Despite the healing of time after what was speculated to be an unhappy departure from Turin, Del Piero said he had no regrets about leaving the team he loves and teammates he considers family.
"No, no, no. I had a great time at Juventus and I enjoyed every single moment. I am still a fan of Juventus now," Del Piero said.
While Juventus scored an 8-1 drubbing of an Indonesian select team on Wednesday, A-League All Stars goalkeeper Mark Birighitti said he was not worried about facing the Italian champions.
The Newcastle keeper expects to come on for the second half of Sundays' game, replacing Eugene Galekovic, the man he also started behind at his previous A-League club, Adelaide.
"No, we've been doing a lot of video analysis on Juventus," Birighitti said. "There's certain areas in their game where we can definitely hurt them in transition and we've got good enough players here.
"We've got enough quality in this side to give it a good crack."
Juventus won the Italian top flight by 17 points ahead of Roma last season and the fabled outfit is still able to attract some of the world's best talent despite Serie A's flagging status among other leagues in Europe, such La Liga, Bundesliga and the EPL.
Among the squad in Australia is host of football royalty, including midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Patrice Evra, and strikers Fernando Llorente, who scored a hattrick in Indonesia, and Carlos Tevez.