You might know Julia Grosso from her winning penalty kick in last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, but the Canadian international has just added another accolade to her name: winning the 2022 scudetto with Serie A Femminile side Juventus.
After finishing up her collegiate career at the University of Texas, the Vancouver native decided to take a chance on la bella vita and start her professional career with the storied Italian team, Juventus. “It was their style, it’s the kind of soccer that I like to play,” the 21-year-old midfielder told AllForXI about why she decided to go to Italy. “[This team] is also a family. It’s amazing being here. My teammates feel like a family here and we’re all very connected. A bit of everything combined made it the perfect fit”
Now, with the club having won its fifth consecutive title, Grosso reflected on her time with the club whose motto, fino alla fine, accurately describes a club whose players truly give it their all.
Le Stelle d’Italia
When Grosso signed with Juventus in December, she joined a star-studded side that boasts a roster full of Italian national team stars like Barbara Bonansea and Sara Gama. For Grosso, working alongside these athletes has given her first-hand insight into what makes the players and the team truly embody that fino alla fine mentality. “It’s really cool to see how they carry themselves from day to day, from training to games,” she explained. “They work so hard, and being around the environment you know why they are who they are, and why they’re so successful. I see what they do behind the scenes.”
Starting next year, Serie A Femminile, the top flight of women’s soccer in Italy, will officially be considered a professional league by the country’s governing body. For Grosso, being in Italy during this momentous occasion was incredible, especially to see what it meant for her teammates who have been playing in the league for many years.
“Everyone is so happy, it’s great!” Grosso said with a smile. “It’s a great opportunity, and it’s the right direction for women’s soccer. Of course, it was serious even before [being officially designated as a professional league], but this makes it feel more real. The players are all so excited and I’m very excited to be part of it too, being here, and seeing it all unfold.”
Il Calcio Italiano
Even though Juventus plays the possession-based style that Grosso prefers, the transition from college to professional soccer still came with challenges. “Coming from college, the speed of play has definitely been a lot faster,” Grosso noted. “My college team was really good, we kept the ball really well. That’s something I like about Juventus, but on this team it’s even more about the technique.”
Because of this, Grosso has seen her own game improve during her six months with Juventus. “I’ve improved on the ball, we do lots of touches on the ball,” she explained. “My positional awareness has also improved. In midfield, we switch positions a lot, and that has helped my movement off the ball as well, along with playing more tiki-taka soccer.”
During her time at Juventus, Grosso participated in the club’s quarterfinal game of UEFA Women’s Champions League, where they lost to Lyon 4-3 on aggregate. Grosso was in the starting line-up for the first leg of the competition and helped Juventus win 2-1 against French side Lyon. However, Lyon was able to overcome the deficit and win 3-1 against the Italian side in the second leg.
Despite the loss, Grosso relished the chance to compete in one of the highest levels of competition in women’s soccer and is pleased with all the attention the UWCL is getting globally. The first leg of the semi-final matchup between Barcelona and Wolfsburg drew 91,648 spectators at the Camp Nou.
“The UWCL is bringing more attention to the women’s game. More people see that, want to be part of that, and support our women’s team,” Grosso said. “Since we were in the Champions League, it brings more women’s soccer awareness to Italy. Just being part of the Champions League really helped that.”
At the conclusion of the season, many of Grosso’s teammates will join their national teams, including her Italian teammates who will be competing in this summer’s UEFA Women’s Euro competition. “I think Italy is going to do great,” Grosso remarked. “They have amazing players.”
Il Bel Paese
In addition to time on the pitch, Grosso has been making the most of her time off the pitch, as well. She has become enchanted by the Italian culture that she’s slowly getting used to.
“I’m in Italian class, and it’s talking a little bit to start saying a few words,” she said. “But for a few months, it was definitely a big culture change! But I’m used to it now, and it’s been good.”
Juventus is situated in Turin, the capital city of the Piedmont region in northern Italy. Like most regions of Italy, Piedmont is known for its regional wines and foods that are unique to the area.
“No matter where you go, the food is really good,” Grosso said, smiling. “Each place you go to, they have a specific dish that they specialize in - and it’s good everywhere!”
Even with the beauty and allure of Italy as a country, Grosso’s main focus has been growing her game with Juventus and helping the team to their most recent championship win. Although she joined the squad mid-way through the season, Grosso is acutely aware of how important team chemistry was to their scudetto win.
“[I attribute our team’s dominance to] our relationships with each other,” Grosso explained. “We are comfortable and we know what each other wants on the field. We understand each other. Everyone works really hard, and is so talented, which is a good combination to have. It’s important to know your teammates’ strengths to get the best out of them.”
According to Grosso, having buy-in from the Juventus organization as a whole has been paramount to the club’s success over the years. “The men’s side is so big, and they make sure the women’s side is always included,” Grosso explained. Whether it’s linked social channels, a robust media team, and general investment in the women’s side, Juventus is making sure they’re growing the women’s game as well.
But for now, Grosso and her teammates are focused on one last competition - the Coppa Italia final. The match will take place on May 22 against Roma, the second-place team in the Serie A standings. “Everyone is really pumped up, ready for the games,” Grosso said. “Everyone’s excited, focused, determined to win going forward into Coppa Italia.”