Sydney FC will become the first A-League club to conduct a preseason camp in Europe as the Sky Blues will depart for a three-week Italian getaway early next month. The club announced the trip via press release, noting five matches will be played including one against Alessandro Del Piero's first club, Padova.
August 2 is the departure date for every member of the team except Del Piero, who will meet his teammates in Jesolo, a small town just outside Venice. The Sky Blues have a July 24 friendly in Japan against J-League side Sagan Tosu, before returning to Sydney to prepare for the Italian camp. Del Piero is flying by himself from Italy to Japan and back, rather than stopping off in Sydney to join the team.
Clearly Del Piero is the catalyst for the visit, as every Sydney match is broadcast live on Italian television and his Sky Blue kits are very popular in his home country. Twenty years have passed since Del Piero left Padova for Juventus in 1993 so the timing of a friendly with the club in nearby Padua will likely include ceremony of some kind.
The other four opponents have not yet been named but they are likely to be smaller clubs than Serie B side Padova. Though manager Frank Farina noted the value of such a trip on the footballing side, Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow explained the real reasons for the three-week camp:
"This is a very exciting tour for Sydney FC and an excellent opportunity to further enhance our brand recognition in Europe. The eyes of Italy will be on Sydney FC, the A-League and Australian football with Alessandro returning home.
Sydney FC is always striving to break new ground for Australian football and the global attention Alessandro has generated for Sydney FC and the A-League will reach another level during the three weeks in Italy."