On Saturday, Torino meet Juventus in the 199th Derby della Mole. The contest takes its name from the famous Mole Antonelliana landmark that pierces Turin’s skyline. The spire is a dominant feature of the cityscape, an institution, making it a particularly fitting metaphor for a duel that captivates the whole of Turin.
The hostility of the derby is fuelled by the embers of a feud dating back more than a century, when Torino were formed by a group of dissident members of the Juventus club. Traditionally, Torino were seen as the team of the proletariat, whilst Juventus were the symbol of the city’s new industrial elite.
More recently, the clubs and their fan bases have become distinguished along other lines. Juventus have positioned themselves at the frontier of global football, with the trappings of a new stadium, star signings, and a club crest devised by a marketing agency. Whilst Juventus increasingly look to appeal to an international audience, Torino continue to provide the centrepiece of the community for a passionate and predominantly local fan base.
In light of Juventus’ on-field superiority in recent decades it is easy to overlook the fact that the tide of the derby has repeatedly ebbed and flowed since its inception in 1906. Throughout its history, both teams have enjoyed periods of dominance. The dissidents had the better of the first two decades, before Juventus’ industrial-powered strength began to tell in the 1930s.
The near-mythical Grande Torino side of the 1940s not only restored the balance of power, but turned it on its head, before that was brought to an abrupt and tragic end. The most recent revival enjoyed by Torino was in the 1970s, when Juventus remained without a win in the derby for nearly six years (from December 1973 to March 1979).
But the defining era in the history of the fixture is the one in which we live. Juventus are in the midst of three successive decades of derby dominance, incorporating a 17-match streak where Torino were unable to register a single victory. It is a period that has destroyed, probably irreversibly, any semblance of equilibrium in the relationship.
Going into this weekend’s match, Juventus now have 86 derby victories to their name, compared to Torino’s 56. Whilst the Toro faithful have learned to temper their expectations on derby day, hope springs eternal. And the recent pattern of results has certainly not diminished the air of anticipation that will descend upon the city ahead of the game.
The Derby della Mole has a distinguished history of providing drama, here we look back at six of the very best from history books…
1. Goals Galore: Torino 8-6 Juventus – February 1913
This was calcio in its nascent form. High-scoring encounters of this ilk were not uncommon in an era that was light on tactical discipline and defined by individualism. In fact, Torino had won the previous derby by an 0-8 scoreline. Calcio at this time was an amateur pursuit played by gentlemen – the latter point illustrated perfectly by the choice of attire for referees, who would don a blazer with their shorts.
On this particular occasion, Torino raced into a 6-2 lead by half time, aided by four goals from the Debernardi brothers, Enrico and Guido. Yet, a second half collapse saw Juventus come back to within one goal of their hosts. It required another Guido Debernardi goal in the 87th minute to finally put Vittorio Pozzo’s men out of sight.
These early matches in Italy were littered with traces of foreign influence as footballing missionaries helped to shape the game on the peninsula. In a nod to their international-centric future, the Juventus side that day contained an Englishman (Billy Ayers), a Scotsman (Jack Brown) and a Swiss (Charles Comte). Though it didn’t do them much good; Juventus finished bottom of the six-team Piemontese group in 1913 and avoided the ignominy of relegation only by virtue of a re-structuring of the league system.
2. Quinquennio d’Oro: Torino 1-3 Juventus – March 1935
By the 1930s, Juventus were beginning to assert their dominance in Italian football. They came into the 1934-35 season on a run of four consecutive scudetti and, as the teams faced each other for a second time that season, Juventus found themselves neck and neck with Fiorentina at the top of the table. This was not a game in which they could not afford to drop points.
But as Fiorentina faltered to a 0-0 draw in Palermo, the Bianconeri were also struggling to make an impression in Turin. It was beginning to look as though the Granata, languishing at the wrong end of the table, might strike a blow against their bitter rivals. With just fifteen minutes remaining, Torino’s stoic rear-guard was finally breached as Felice Borel made the breakthrough for Juventus, before further goals flowed from Luis Monti and Raimundo Orsi to ensure maximum points.
This proved to be a crucial victory that gave Juventus the edge in a scudetto race that went right to the wire. They prevailed on the final day of the season to take their fifth straight title, the Quinquennio d’oro, a feat which they would not repeat until 2016.
3. Scudetto Turning Point: Juventus 4-2 Torino – March 1982
Following a period of Torino dominance during the 1970s, Juventus were beginning to regain their authority in the derbies of the 1980s. The Bianconeri were seeking to successfully defend the scudetto in 1981-82 when mid-table Torino visited in the March of that season.
Torino stunned their hosts by racing into an early two-goal lead that would have seen Juventus’ title rivals rubbing their hands with glee. But Giovanni Trapattoni and his charges were not fazed. By half time they had reversed the deficit with goals from Marco Tardelli and a well-taken brace from the unlikely source of defender Gaetano Scirea. Late on in the game Irishman Liam Brady counter-attacked, effortlessly finishing from the edge of the box to put the gloss on their victory.
This match was a turning point in Juventus’ season as they went on to seal the scudetto by the margin of a single point. A Liam Brady penalty at Catanzaro on the final day of the season proved decisive; his final act for the Bianconeri before being succeeded by Michel Platini in the Number 10 shirt.
4. The Mother of All Comebacks: Torino 3-2 Juventus – March 1983
Exactly twelve months later, the derby once again proved pivotal in determining the destination of the scudetto. But this time Torino had their revenge. Juventus had stormed into a two-goal lead on the hour mark, courtesy of goals from Italy’s World Cup hero Paolo Rossi and the irrepressible Michel Platini.
Torino then staged arguably the most spectacular comeback in derby history with a three-goal salvo in five chaotic second-half minutes. First, headed goals from Guiseppe Dossena and Alessandro Bonesso brought Torino level, before Fortunato Torissi acrobatically volleyed come from 12 yards to complete the most miraculous of turnarounds.
The defeat enabled Roma to extend their lead at the top of Serie A to a margin of four points, a deficit that Juventus were never able to reverse, ensuring the scudetto went to the Giallorossi for only the second time in their history.
5. High Stakes Stalemate: Juventus (P) 0-0 Torino – May 1988
It was the circumstance of this derby, rather than the match itself which made this match unique. The two clubs had been difficult to separate all season, finishing tied on 31 points in joint-sixth place. A play-off match was required to determine which team would win the right to compete in the UEFA Cup the following season.
It was the fifth time the clubs had met that season, having supplemented the usual league encounters with a two-legged Coppa Italia semi-final. Juventus had had the better of the league meetings, but it was Torino who had prevailed in the Coppa Italia. The play-off came at the end of a long season and was, for good measure, the fourth time the two teams had met in a six-week period.
Predictably it was a cagey affair that was low on quality as two weary teams cancelled one another out. Juventus had the balance of the play, but couldn’t break through. The additional period of extra time was even more lacklustre than the previous period and did nothing to separate the two sides. Juventus eventually triumphed on penalties, winning 4-2 with Ian Rush scoring the spot kick that sealed victory.
6. Penalty Spot Mischief: Juventus 3-3 Torino – October 2001
Juventus came out of the traps quickly during a warm autumnal afternoon at the Stadio Delle Alpi. They went ahead after just nine minutes when Alessandro Del Piero slotted in from close range, and Igor Tudor doubled the lead just three minutes later. The game looked finished when Pavel Nedved slid Del Piero in at the far post for his second and the Bianconeri’s third before half time.
Torino coach Giancarlo Camolese must have given a rousing half-time team talk as Torino hit back soon after the break. First Cristiano Lucarelli finished clinically from a simple ball over the top, then a clumsy body check from Lilian Thuram gave Marco Ferrante the chance to make it 3-2 from the penalty spot. In the 83th minute, the comeback was complete when Riccardo Maspero slotted home from close range after Buffon had parried Ferrante’s header.
But the drama didn’t end there. With just three minutes remaining, the referee handed Juventus a lifeline after Tudor was bundled to the ground inside Torino’s box. Scenes of pandemonium ensued as Torino players protested the decision. As an angry horde of Granata surrounded the referee, Maspero is just out of camera shot hacking his heel into the turf from where the penalty is about to be struck.
After carefully placing the ball on the penalty spot, Juventus’ Marcelo Salas stepped up…only to blaze the ball high over the cross bar.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this you may be interested in my travel tips for calcio fans visiting Torino.