Following the lives of Juventus’ first team players on and off the pitch, this Netflix Original documentary is an interesting but oftentimes shallow look at the historic Italian club. With no mention of the famous match fixing scandal in 2006, Juventus’ relegation and fight back to the top of Serie A, First Team is a distinctly subjective look at the Italian giants that does do a good job of providing some insight into how the top players live but not so much the true history of Juventus as a football club.
Split across 3 episodes, the series begins at the start of the Serie A in September 2017 and gives an in-depth look into the training, matches and key moments leading up to the end of December the same year. There’s a mixture of interviews with several key players in the team including goalkeeper Buffon and top goalscorer Higuain as well as a showcase of different matches in both the Champions League and Serie A. Although its touched on briefly, it would have been nice to see some of the family members interviewed individually to get their thoughts on Juventus and football as a whole.
Although Juventus’ tumultuous journey to the top of Serie A is explored for the first few months of the 2017 season, the content of this documentary focuses heavily on Juventus’ quest for Champions League gold. After losing in spectacular fashion to Real Madrid 4-1 last year, the three episodes focus on the players preparing for and hopefully winning the Champions League. The documentary ends with a look ahead at the Champions League knockout stages and an ominous message about Juventus’ uncertain future made all the more significant following Juve’s draw with Tottenham this week. During these match showcases, there’s some quick edits used to show key moments in the football games and although the rapid edits give this documentary a distinct artistic feel, at times it makes it unnecessarily difficult to follow the action on the pitch. If there’s one thing this documentary does show though it’s the baffling extent of bias from the Italian commentary team that favour Juventus heavily throughout.
This three-part documentary does give a good insight into the facilities and lives of the top players but First Team: Juventus is sadly light on the true history of the club and division as well as surprisingly light on taboo subjects such as how the players feel about transfers and new players coming into the team or leaving. Although Higuain’s transfer from rivals Napoli to Juventus is explored in detail, it’s a shame the documentary didn’t devote more time in exploring the fans’, manager and player’s feelings toward other transfers and the potential impact it has on a club. Instead, this documentary paints a picture that all is well in the locker room and Juventus’ history is one free of scandal or tarnish which of course it isn’t. Even an acknowledgement of the match fixing scandal and a desire for the club to move past it would have sufficed but the way the history of the club is showcased but never acknowledged accurately does give this documentary a biased viewpoint which is a shame.
Overall then, First Team: Juventus is an enjoyable slice of entertainment even if it does omit some of the crucial issues currently plaguing Italian football including match fixing and distrust toward Italian clubs. There’s a good mixture of on and off-pitch action and the interviews with key players are certainly informative and paint a picture of a club at the top of its game. Whilst this is true to some degree, there’s no mention of AC Milan and Roma nor does this documentary address the changing face of Italian football over the past decade or so. If you can look past some of the bias in place then there’s an enjoyable insight into the lives of top Italian players but beyond that, a lack of historical accuracy and insight into the true state of Italian football makes this more disappointing than it should be.
Verdict - 5/10