15.01.2016 12:30 - in: Serie A S

    New stadium, familiar foes

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    Juventus will become the first team to play at the completed Dacia Arena Friuli on Sunday, the new refurbished home of Sunday’s opponents Udinese

    For Bianconeri fans of any age, 8 September 2011 is a date that will live long in the memory. Just as the 40,000 or so gathered at Juventus Stadium that night sensed the beginning of a new era as they witnessed the inauguration of their team’s new home, so too will the supporters of Udinese this weekend for the landmark opening of the recently completed Dacia Arena Friuli.

    And so, after just under two of years of waiting and a great deal of anticipation, the Udine-based club will finally see the fruits of its labours on Sunday afternoon as their fully refurbished ground gets set to host Serie A football for the first time.

    Although the original Stadio Friuli was modern for its time upon its construction in 1976, standing out as the only 1990 World Cup venue that did not require being renovated, it has given way to one of the division’s most modern and striking stadia while retaining its old, iconic, concrete arch. 

    The Dacia Arena Friuli approahces completion in March 2015 with its concrete arch clearly in tact.

    Under chairman Giampaolo Pozzo’s remit of “reducing capacity and raising quality” the Friuliani’s modernised arena has seen its capacity cut to 25,000 (a significant reduction on the old site) with the primary goal – in the words of the club’s website- of improving the matchday atmosphere while creating “a modern, safe sustainable sports structure, which can offer a unique experience to its users.”

    Work began on implementing Pozzo’s vision in April 2014 with the demolition of the old North Stand. The first brick would be laid two months later in June and by the following October, the basic shell of the structure was taking shape as demonstrated by the club’s Twitter profile on the eve of their Serie A encounter with Atalanta. 

    A year on, the stands either side of the half-way line (known as the distinti in Italian) too were knocked down, rebuilt and equipped with eye-catching multi-coloured seats in time for the first home game of the 2015/16 season, an unfortunate 1-0 defeat to Palermo. 

    The South Stand, the final piece in the jigsaw was completed in December 2015 perfectly in time with the revised schedule to be ready for the second half of the campaign and the visit of defending champions Juventus, the first chapter of a new era for the north-eastern club. 

    Every good story needs a villain however, a role that Massimiliano Allegri’s men will be more than happy to play come kick-off.

    (Images taken from the website and Twitter account of Udinese Football Club)

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