Sydney football fans are the major beneficiaries of Italy’s early exit from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. With Juventus due to face the A-League All-Stars on August 10th, the Italian champions’ World Cup stars have had an unexpectedly early holiday and been back in training in plenty of time for the match at ANZ Stadium.
Half a dozen Juve players lined up for Italy in their final group match against Uruguay. Had the Italians made it all the way to the final on July 14th, Juve players would have had less than a month to have their break, get back into training, and then make the arduous journey down under. It would have been highly likely that a number – if not all – of the Juve players involved in the World Cup would have missed the trip to Sydney.
With an extra three weeks to prepare, the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini could all start the game. The involvement of players who represented nations that went deeper into the tournament, such as Arturo Vidal of Chile and Paul Pogba of France, remains to be seen.
Juventus are clearly taking their Asian tour seriously, having beaten the Indonesia All Stars 8-1 on Wednesday night. Spanish forward Fernando Llorente notched a six minute hat trick in that game, so expect fireworks from him on Sunday.
The All-Stars will be captained by Alessandro Del Piero, despite the Italian legend having left Sydney FC in April. The match will represent the first occasion that Del Piero has faced the club where he made his name, and it will also be a fitting way to farewell the city of Sydney.
Brisbane Roar star Thomas Broich topped the fan poll that has determined the All-Stars squad, while coach Josep Gombau added four wild card picks. The All-Stars will hope to be more competitive than in the 5-1 loss to Manchester United last year.
Sunday 10th August, ANZ Stadium Homebush 19:30
A-League All-Stars v Juventus