After achieving Scudetto glory the previous season, Juventus gained safe passage into the Champions League, where they were placed in Group C alongside Borussia Dortmund, Steaua Bucharest and Rangers. Marcello Lippi’s men proceeded to storm stormed into the last eight with two matches to spare following four consecutive wins during which they found the back of the net 14 times and conceded just twice.
On 6 March 1996, the Bianconeri were tasked with travelling to the Santiago Bernabeu for a blockbuster quarter-final against Spanish giants Real Madrid. Despite not really being at the races, Juve managed to escape with only a one-goal deficit established by Raúl González. Two weeks later, a capacity crowd at the Stadio delle Alpi bore witness to an impressive turnaround as goals from Del Piero and Padovano guided Lippi’s side to the required 2-0 scoreline.
The first leg of Juve’s semi-final clash against French club Nantes took place at Turin’s Stadio delle Alpi, where the hosts made full use of the man advantage gained after Carotti’s sending off to score twice (Vialli and Jugovic) in the second period and take an imposing lead to the west of France.
The Bianconeri seemed well in control of the reverse match and had established a 2-1 (4-1 on aggregate) lead by the 50 minute mark. However, two quick-fire goals put Nantes back in the contest an upset seemed to be on the cards in the dying stages but in the end, Vialli and Sousa’s goals proved enough for a 4-3 aggregate victory.
Rome’s Stadio Olimpico was the venue chosen to host the 1996 Champions League final on 22 May between two giants of European football Juventus and Ajax.
Lippi’s troops were straight in the driving seat and went ahead after Ravanelli latched onto the first real goalscoring opportunity. The Dutch side levelled proceedings through Litmanen just before the interval but that was to be the last goal from open play and after 120 minutes of physically and mentally draining action, a penalty shootout was needed to determine a winner.
Ferrara, Pessotto and Padovano all displayed nerves of steel to net their respective penalties but then Jugovic stole the headlines with the winning strike which sealed trophy glory for the club. However, the undisputed hero of the night was Bianconeri goalkeeper Peruzzi, who pulled off two crucial penalty saves from Davids and Silooy.
Final starting XI – Peruzzi; Torricelli, Vierchowod, Ferrara, Pessotto; Conte, Sousa, Deschamps; Ravanelli, Vialli, Del Piero.