The UEFA Champions League, formerly known as European Cup and usually referred simply as Champions League, is the top football tounament in Europe and the most important club competition in the world in prestige and buisness terms.
Champions League 1996
Juve’s 1995-96 Champions League campaign began with a jolt. In Dortmund, the Bianconeri had barely taken to the field before the Germans went a goal ahead. Former Juventus player Andreas Moeller found the target and his team mates pushed for the second. But goals from Padovano, Del Piero and Conte put things right, to seal a 3-1 victory.
With Vialli and Ravanelli back from injury and Del Piero in good shape, Juve played hosts to Steaua Bucarest fifteen days later and went in front on the half hour mark. Di Livio, Del Piero and Ravanelli clinched a 3-0 victory. The Bianconeri’s third game of the round saw Glasgow Rangers arrive in Torino with Sean Connery following the Scottish side. But it would have taken an army of 007’s to stop a fine Juventus performance. An own goal from Moore opened the game up for Lippi’s men, a strike from Conte and a gem from Del Piero ended the contest after half an hour. The rest was a formality, with Ravanelli and an own goal by Ferrara making the final score 4-1. Juve also won in Glasgow on 1st November, Del Piero netting again and Torricelli, Ravanelli and Marocchi also hitting the target. Having already secured qualification, the Bianconeri could relax for the next two games. Borussia Dortmund came to Torino and gained the points which helped them achieve second place in the group stage, which ended for Juve with a 0-0 draw in the snow of Bucarest.
The quarter-finals saw Juve come up against Real Madrid. The first leg was at the Bernabeu on 6th March. It seemed as if Juventus did not fully feel the importance of the match which conteined the majority of their season’s hopes. Raul breached the defence in the 21st minute and slotted past Peruzzi. The Italian goalkeeper then became a key man. It finished 1-0, a result that could be recovered, but would require another Juve. The other Juve, full of determination and sparkle, turned up at the Delle Alpi on 20th March. 16 minutes had passed and the Bianconeri were awarded a free kick just outside the area. Del Piero found the corner with a majestic strike and made it all square. Real Madrid dusted themselves down but Juve, who had pressed throughout the first half, took the lead through a splendid strike from the man of the moment, Michele Padovano. A nervy finale followed, with the Spanish not used to going out in such a manner, but nothing more of note happened and Juve were through.
The semi-final against Nantes promised to be exciting: the first leg in Torino was anything but easy, Nantes fought, put eleven men behind the ball and broke at speed. Juve toiled throughout the entire first half to find a way to goal, and with their first main opportunity they took the lead through Ravanelli. The game was frustrating, the broken balance didn’t give the Bianconeri a tactical advantage because Ajax swept forward without fear. Before the break Litmanen profited from a rebound in the area and beat Peruzzi to bring the visitors level. In the second half Juve raised their game, Vialli went desperately close to making it 2-1, whilst Padovano also tried his luck, having come on in place of Ravanelli. Nothing further occurred and the scores remained level in extra time. It went to penalties. Davids couldn’t beat Peruzzi, Ferrara netted his spot kick. Litmanen, Pessotto, Scholten and Padovano found the target, but another moment of brilliance from Peruzzi against Silooy tipped the balance in the Bianconeri’s favour. Jugovic was up next, if he scored it was all over. And he did. The cup was Juve’s and Vialli lifted it high into the Roma sky.