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The Lost Jewels of Juventus: The 2017 Champions League Final

Random thoughts and stories after a hard night in Cardiff.

Juventus v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

January of 2011. It was a cold night in Turin, when the new director general of Juventus, Giuseppe Marotta, finished a negotiation with Udinese for one of their strikers. Marotta was not aiming to bring Udinese’s star, Antonio Di Natale, to Turin. The name of that player was Antonio Floro Flores. Floro Flores was an ordinary and average attacker — he still is. However, he was part of the group of players that Juventus could afford at that time. The curious part of this forgotten story is that Antonio never arrived in Turin because he rejected the Bianconeri from the beginning, instead going on to play for Genoa. A few days later, after he was transferred to the Griffins, Floro Flores declared to the newspapers: “It took me about 30 seconds to make a decision.”

In case you wonder, Floro Flores was not crazy. Juventus was not a very competitive team in Serie A, let alone Europe. Juve fans wanted desperately to have Javier Pastore, Giuseppe Rossi, Edin Dzeko or Sergio Agüero in their team. Even Giampaolo Pazzini was a pipe dream. Nonetheless, Felipe Melo, Jorge Martínez, Marco Motta and Armand Traoré were wearing the historic black and white jersey.

Six years ago, while Juventus was struggling to add Antonio Floro Flores, Real Madrid completed the transfers of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka,and Karim Benzema.

Amazingly, in 2017, the Bianconeri faced Los Blancos in the Champions League Final.

I am not writing to analyze the performance of the players, Allegri or Marotta. That moment will come. I just wanted to remind you that we have been in Calcio's hell together. Just ten years ago, we watched our team competed in Serie B. We followed Del Piero, Buffon, Nedved, Camoranesi, and Trezeguet when they played on the modest stadiums of Modena, Cesena, and Triestina. Ten years ago, Madrid was full of David Beckham’s billboards. That season, they won La Liga with Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson in their galactic roster. Juventus bounced back from Serie B, and ten years later they are undeniable contenders in Europe.

It has never been easy to be a Juventus fan and it will not get easier. I am still trying to understand what happened during that damned second half at the Millennium Stadium. Like you, I am sad and bitter. I was convinced that it was our time, Gigi’s time, Higuain’s time, and Dybala’s time. I still don’t process what happened in Cardiff, but I know that our time will come sooner or later. Juventus will bounce back. It is in the DNA of the institution.

Buffon did not rise the big ears trophy. We will see what happens next year. If he can achieve it, Chiellini, Marchisio, Dybala or Rugani will step up. Meanwhile, next season, Juventus must defend their Serie A and Copa Italia title from Napoli, Roma, and the two Chinese powerhouses Inter and Milan. Also, they need to provide Buffon the last shot to win the Champions League before his retirement.

The average age of Juventus’ starting lineup in Cardiff was 30 years and 336 days. The team needs to get younger. Luckily, Juventus has assembled a bright new generation of players: Daniele Rugani, Paulo Dybala, Marko Pjaca, Rodrigo Bentancur, Ronaldo Mandragora, Riccardo Orsolini, Moise Kean and Mattia Caldara are the present and future of La Vecchia Signora. Allegri needs to find minutes for all of them at some point.

Lastly, according to some reports, Juventus earned 109 million euros for their participation in this season’s Champions League. This money should give Marotta and Co. enough ammunition to bolster the team.

It is too soon to forget what happened in Cardiff. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that Juventus will be back.