Old Lady nearing end of long road to redemption

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It’s almost two years to the day that Juventus started out on their long road to redemption.

It was back in July 2006 that Giovanni Cobolli Gigli took on the task of rebuilding the toppled giants from the rubble of Calciopoli and humiliation of relegation to Serie B.

It may have been a humbling experience for a club that had never been relegated in its 110-year history but now after a third-place finish in the top flight last season the Old Lady has regained some of her old swagger.

Juve make Serie B debut at Rimini in September 2006 

With a Champions League preliminary round to negotiate in August, Juve are already back in pre-season training.

The new slick-looking home kit has been unveiled although the custard-yellow second strip will take some getting used to and, in an open letter to the fans, Cobolli Gigli laid the scandal to rest once and for all while looking ahead to the future with plenty of confidence.

The Bianconeri certainly seem to have a jump on their title rivals, having made a number of shrewd signings in striker Amauri from Palermo and Sweden defender Olof Mellberg.

There are also three genuinely high-quality youngsters back on the books: Paolo De Ceglie, Claudio Marchiso and Alessandro Del Piero’s heir-apparent Sebastian Giovinco.

However, one area coach Claudio Ranieri has failed to nail down so far is in the centre of midfield.

Four candidates have now become two and that may even drop to just one.

Although Xabi Alonso may yet arrive from Liverpool, number one target Alberto Aquilani is set to sign a new contract at AS Roma while the fans have made it clear that they would never accept Dejan Stankovic.

The Viking ultras group have not forgotten that the Inter man was one of Juve’s most vocal critics throughout the match-fixing saga and during the team’s first training session at the weekend they unfurled a banner succinctly putting the issue to bed for once and for all.

“You spat on our faith … you’ll never set foot in Juventus … Stankovic you are unworthy!!”

So, addios Stan but what’s this? Welcome Christian Poulsen – the scourge of Francesco Totti at Euro 2004 when the Dane’s close attention drove the Italy star to literally do what Stankovic had been accused off by the Juve ultras and send a gob flying towards his opponent which Danish TV happened to record.

Totti lets fly at Poulsen at Euro 2004 

Suspended for what turned out to be the rest of the tournament, the Roma captain has never forgotten or forgiven.

Then a couple of seasons ago, the blond destroyer did much the same thing to Ricky Kaka during a Champions League tie between AC Milan and Schalke 04 which led to Gennaro Gattuso squaring up to him at the end of the second leg.

The 28-year-old is now at Seville but reports suggest he is in the advanced stages of making the move to Turin, which would prove that Juve can still rub their opponents up the wrong way.