Prior to joining Atlanta United ahead of their inaugural 2017 campaign, Martinez played for Serie A outfit Torino, the city rivals of this week’s All-Star opponents. Though Martinez did not reach the levels at Torino that he’s now hitting at Atlanta, the chance to face Juve once again will be a happy occasion for the runaway MLS Golden Boot leader.
“Excited. Excited, because I had many opportunities to face them.” Martinez told reporters when asked his feelings on facing Juventus again, on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET | ESPN, UniMás; TSN, TVAS in Canada). “I’m happy because it reminds me of the time I spent with Torino.”
Martinez, who joined Torino as a 21-year-old, appeared 57 times for the Granata but scored just seven goals, a far cry from the record-setting pace he’s been hitting in MLS these days. Unlike in Atlanta, Martinez was often used out wide or as a second striker and did not get much of a run in the first team after his first season with the club.
The change of scenery has certainly seemed to benefit Martinez, even if he is loathe to draw comparisons between his current and former playing situations.
“They are two different leagues, they are two different teams. I don’t like to compare one league to the other,” he said. “I live in the moment, I believe that my present is the most important for me and thanks to my team things are going well.”
The rivalry between Juventus has been wildly one-sided in the last couple decades, with Torino winning just one competitive game against Italy’s most successful team since 1995. That one win, though, came during Martinez’s tenure at the club and he came on as a 61st-minute substitute during the 2-1 victory.
Now, he’ll get another chance to get one over the rivals that so often seemed to be an unsolvable puzzle for his former team.
“Always,” Martinez said when asked if he had any extra motivation to score against his former rivals. “When you play against a big team you're always want to do things right. Obviously, because my past I want to achieve what many times we couldn't achieve in Torino. I am very happy for [MLS All-Star Game day] and I want that day to start right now.”