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Requiem for a (Champions League) Dream

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After Juve’s stunning loss to Ajax earlier this week, fans are left to wonder when the club will finally deliver in Europe.

Juventus v Ajax - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

After Juventus’ elimination from the Champions League, I feel like I could laugh, throw up, or cry at any given moment. But, all I can say now, it is that Juventus has changed.

For as long as I’ve been a fan there have always been positives, but today and throughout this season it’s been hard to find much positivity. Even in the darkest moments of the past, there’s been the leadership Gigi Buffon and the Juve legends I’ve idolized since childhood to look up to. But these idols have faded away, either retired as champions or forced out by the very club they loved until the end.

I felt that something was different with the club after last season. Buffon’s bittersweet departure was questionable since he went on to sign with Paris Saint-Germain. Then the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best to ever play the game, was a great moment for the team. And then the cheap deal with AC Milan to bring back a player that disrespected and abandoned Juventus in exchange for a promising talent and an effective player who valued his role at the club. But the moment that still saddens me today, Claudio Marchisio being forced out without any real send off, was a punch to the gut that maybe should’ve concerned myself and Juventini more than it did at the time.

This all happened within a few months. Then the new season came with all the talk of European dreams becoming the goal. The dream that seemed so close yet so far was now a realistic goal for the club, from the mouths of players and the manager. It was as possible as ever and a Champions League trophy would’ve been the perfect way to begin the next chapter in Juve’s great history. But still, I knew something had changed, although the thought of a changed Juventus haunted me for months, I ignored it until now.

If Juventus had won the Champions League this season then maybe I wouldn’t have these thoughts. Instead, I’d be as proud as ever and witnessing the beginning of a new era of champions at Juventus. But the next chapter won’t be started for at least another year. And, until then, I’ll be sad and disappointed but what is being a fan without these emotions? If it wasn’t for times like these then winning wouldn’t be special; and Juventus is a special club that deserves better than what it’s gotten from its management and players.

I have nothing to say about Juve’s performances against Ajax other than that the better team won. It’s pointless to dwell on it as it can’t be changed and it won’t be relevant in six months so I’ll leave it at that. But what is relevant is where does Juventus stand now?

I’m going to assume a new coach will be in place after this season and also that no more than one or two key changes will be made to the roster this summer. Giorgio Chiellini is the right captain for this team, and I still believe Paulo Dybala is the right No. 10 for Juventus. But who is going to be the heart and the leader of this team? When it was Buffon, he had the help of Chiellini and Marchisio, among others. So who is there to help Chiellini? Who is the right manager to bring Juventus to the next chapter of success?

Neither I, nor anyone else, can answer these questions at this point in time but they’re worth thinking about as Juventus go into their most uneventful end of a season in years. Something else to think about is whether it’s worth it or not. And this, I can answer. Yes, anything you love is worth it, and if you don’t love Juventus then I’m not sure why you’re reading this.

Right now, I’m bitterly disappointed, but just a month ago I was as proud as I’ve ever been of this club. Nothing sums up fandom better than the spectrum of emotions I’ve felt this season. I’ve been feeling them for years on end and I’ll feel the same emotions again next season and I’ll continue to even after I’ve seen my team makes this dream a reality. Because champions try and try again and Juventus is nothing but a club of champions, a special club with special fans, until the end.