Pictures of Juventus lifting the Champions League trophy in 1996 brings pretty much every single one of us lots and lots of joy. It just so happens to be the last time Juventus lifted the Champions League trophy, and a drought in Europe that has played a major role as to why they’ve pushed to what they’ve done on the transfer market to get back to that same level.
Juve’s opponent in that 1996 Champions League final? Ajax.
Juve’s opponent in the 2019 Champions League final? That same Ajax.
Of course, this Ajax is currently the darling of just about everybody who has wanted to see the tide turn and there be a new Champions League holder other than Real Madrid. With their young, impressive talent all over the field, Led by their young guns, Ajax will look to continue their rise back to European prominence when they face Juventus in the quarterfinals of the Champions League next month.
And in a new twist this season, Juventus already knows who they will face if they are to advance to the Champions League — either Manchester City or Tottenham.
Same goes for Champions League final — either Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool or Porto.
That’s what we get now that UEFA has adopted a bracket style of doing things for the last few rounds of the Champions League.
The last time Juventus and Ajax played one another, things were a little different in Turin. It was in the Europa League. Alessandro Del Piero was flanked by Amauri in attack. Juve’s midfield included Momo Sissoko and Felipe Melo (and Claudio Marchisio entering his beautiful prime). Giorgio Chiellini, who just played his 500th game in a Juventus jersey on Tuesday night, led a defense that had Zdenek Grygera and Paulo De Ceglie at each fullback spot.
Times are a little different a decade later.
Juventus and Ajax both played leading roles in two of the most thrilling ties in the round of 16. Ajax’s massive upset in Madrid meant that there will be a new Champions League winner, while Juve’s Cristiano Ronaldo-led comeback against Atletico Madrid averted any kind of major crisis based on what the club has set out to do this season.
This matchup of one of the more experienced teams in the Champions League against the young hotshots that have either already secured a move to one of Europe’s giants (Frenkie de Jong) and will be in a relatively short amount of time, preferably to the team he will be playing in the Champions League quarterfinals (Matthijs de Ligt).
Sounds like fun to me. Of course, having to make a historic kind of comeback in the second leg isn’t going to be suggested by anybody. An away goal or two would be nice in the first leg, but that’s just one guy’s opinion on that matter.