To get to the 2014 Europa League final, Juventus will have to get through one of the two finalists from last year's competition.
No, it's not Chelsea. They were in that other draw on Friday afternoon. Once the first two balls were drawn out of the bucket by a familiar face who goes by the name of Ciro Ferrera, Juventus' opponent was known — Benfica from Portugal. Benfica, who lost to Chelsea in last year's final, beat AZ Alkmaar 3-0 on aggregate to reach the semifinals in this year's competition.
GRAPHIC: Benfica vs Juventus #Juve #Benfica #UEL pic.twitter.com/veXFhtfBFz— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) April 11, 2014
Tough draw? Well, yeah. Benfica will certainly be one of the tougher teams Juventus will face this season. But at this point in the Europa League, it's not like there are any poor teams. No cupcakes, none of that nonsense. Benfica got to last season's final, after all. And considering how a lot of people rate them, it might have been only a matter of time before Juventus met up with the Portuguese giants.
All of this, of course, is for the ultimate goal — to play for the Europa League title in a little place called Juventus Stadium in Turin on Wednesday, May 14.
FACT: @juventusfc can become the third side since 1997/98 to compete in the showpiece at their home arena (1/2). #UELdraw— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) April 11, 2014
Feyenoord triumphed in Rotterdam in 2002/03, but Sporting lost the 2004/05 final in Lisbon (2/2). #UELfinal— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) April 11, 2014
The first leg leg between Juventus and Benfica will be played at Estádio da Luz in Lisbon on Thursday, April 24, with the return leg being in Turin seven days later on May 1. Say, the last time Juve played the first leg away from home worked out pretty okay. Maybe they could do that again — with a little less stress the time around, of course.
Side note: If Juventus make it to the Europa League, they will technically be the away team. Funny, that.
Oh, and here's Andrea Pirlo's free kick from last night. Why am I showing you this? Well, because I can, that's why.
Yeah, that's pretty awesome.
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