Review | First Team: Juventus Part One (2018)
First Team: Juventus, the latest Netflix Original Docu-series, takes us on a behind the scenes look at one of Europe’s most famous, most loved and most successful football clubs, the “Old Lady” of Turin, Juventus. The series takes a look into what life is like for the players on and off the pitch and features enlightening interviews with some of Juve’s biggest stars past and present and aired on February, 16 2018.
Sports documentaries can face trouble appealing to more than just sports fans, but First Team: Juventus is certainly on the right path after its first three of six total episodes being filmed over the course of the current 2017-18 football season. This “half series” takes us through the highs and lows of the start of Juventus’ season where their aim is to win an unprecedented seventh consecutive league title and forget the despair of last season’s Champions League final loss to Real Madrid by picking up Europe’s most coveted trophy in May.
Rather than simply being a chronicle of sporting highlights though, First Team: Juventus delivers in bringing the viewer into the lives of the players away from the pressures of the game. Brewing coffee with Claudio Marchisio, beard grooming with Gonzalo Higuain, playing the guitar with Federico Bernadeschi and wandering through markets with Daniele Rugani. All this we are treated to in this series, and it helps to bring out a side to sportspeople we often don’t think about. A familiar side, an often rather funny side, but most notably, a heartfelt side.
First Team: Juventus balances the football and the player’s home lives excellently and never shows any bias to the club, simply showing us just what Juventus means to the people of Turin, its relationship with fans and how difficult it can sometimes be for players to try to find a fair balance between their own two lives.
Understandably if you’re a football fan, a good deal of time in these first three episodes is dedicated to Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon, Juve’s first choice goalkeeper since 2001, who is playing what many believe to be his final year in the game at age 40. Glimpsing an insight into Buffon’s personal thoughts on his own career and his own life is something that any fan of the game will be fascinated by. Perhaps even moved.
Still never giving a definitive answer about Buffon’s retirement, this first half of the series will no doubt bring up that discussion among fans again regardless of how many times it has been brought up over the past few months.
The series also takes time with Georgio Chiellini, with the legendary defender exploring just how heartbreaking it was for Italians to not qualify for this summer’s World Cup in Russia. Argentine forward Gonzalo Higuain talks us through his relationship with Napoli fans after his transfer to Juventus two seasons ago as he prepares for his first Christmas away from his family. Miralem Pjanic and Claudio Marchisio discuss how much the time they spend with their respective children means to them.
While there are certainly plenty of football matches, training, goals, saves, coaching and even photo shoots for sponsors to wet any football fan’s appetite, the series’ look into the lives of the players is really where it shines.
It is a lie to say that sports fans, particularly football fans and especially Juve fans, will not get the most out of First Team: Juventus. Of course, they will. But for anyone looking to see the funny, heartfelt and more personal side of such well-loved celebrities, this docu-series might just suit nicely.