It wasn't long ago that Juventus vs. Real Madrid was being considered the heavyweight showdown of the Champions League group stage. They were two teams who ended having two completely different European seasons. Madrid were trying to get to the ever-elusive La Décima, while Juve were trying to just hold on and survive to get out of the group.
We know what happened last season. Now, the two clubs will meet just about 18 months later, with the stage exponentially higher and the reward being the chance to play for what everybody wants to at the beginning of the season.
Once Bayern Munich and Barcelona were drawn against one another as the first two ping-pong balls were plucked out of the fancy UEFA-sponsored bowl, the reality of who Juventus will be playing in the Champions League semifinals was all but certain. It's Juventus, the soon-to-be four-time Serie A champions against the current Champions League winners, Real Madrid.
Mark your calendars right now, ladies and gents. The first leg will be played on Wednesday, May 6, at Juventus Stadium, with the second leg is scheduled to go down a week later on May 12 at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid.
Ah, where to begin with this matchup. The Carlo Ancelotti vs. Juventus storyline. The Juventus back in the Champions League semis after 12 years wait angle. Same goes for who Juve beat the last time they made it this far in Europe. And there's also Juventus' big summer signing, Spanish striker Álvaro Morata, going back to the city of his birth and the stadium where he has playing his home matches just last season.
That's just the start of it, really.
Just like the other semifinal, it's a true meeting of the heavyweights. It almost always is at this point in the competition. But to have Juventus back here, where the club has fought so hard to get back to, just seems right. People can talk about how Juve will be underdogs, and that's fine. It's not the first time Juve-Real Madrid has been looked at in that kind of way. We don't have to look all that far back for that, either.