With their win over Real Madrid, Juventus–winners of four straight Serie A titles–have elevated themselves to a new level of European soccer greatness.
While Juve has been the pride of Italy over the past few years, La Vecchia Signora, or ‘The Old Lady’ as they are called throughout their native company, have not reached a European cup final since 2003. While Real Madrid was heavily favored heading into their matchup with Juve, the Italians dealt with their Spanish foes with relative ease, and now look to take on the second of the Spanish giants in the final in Berlin against Barcelona. Considering the journey of the Italian champions, it’s quite the shock to many of their fans that Juve is still here.
Unlike the rest of their Champions’ League semifinal counterparts, Juventus did not coast to the knockout stage of the tournament. The Italian side came in second in Group A, conceding losses to Olympiacos and Atletico Madrid, only moving on based on points they won against Swedish champions Malmo. While Juve hardly made it pretty for their fans, they skirted by their Champions League competition in the group phase, specifically European minnows Malmo, and made it to the knockout phase.
Coming in second gave Juve a difficult knockout round matchup, as they faced Group H champions and recent Champions’ League finalists Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16. While Dortmund was heavily favored coming to into the matchup, the Germans could not handle the attacking power of Juventus, and surrendered their vaunted home field advantage, losing 2-1 at the legendary Westfalenstadion to the Italian side. When the two-legged tie returned to Turin, Juventus thrashed the Germans 3-0 to move on to the quarterfinals on 5-1 aggregate.
Following their matchup with Dortmund, Juve moved on to a quarterfinal battle with Monaco, the deep-pocketed French side coming off a win against Arsenal. Here, Juve was able to display the defensive prowess that has made them famous, keeping Monaco scoreless over 180 minutes of the two-legged tie. With their defense in prime form, Juventus beat Monaco 1-0 on aggregate, moving on to the most star-studded Champions’ League semifinal the world has seen in quite some time. With Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Barcelona represented, the Champions’ League had three league winners from the best soccer leagues in Europe and Spanish side boasting the world’s best player. Quite the matchup for a team that didn’t even win its group.
In the team’s semifinal draw, Juventus managed Real Madrid, the defending champions of Europe, and a team seemingly poised to repeat that honor. Despite their tough task, the Italians took their challenge in stride, and found some luck during the home leg in Turin. Juventus managed a breakaway goal in the first half, and despite a response from Cristiano Ronaldo, was able to secure a 2-1 victory after Carlos Tevez notched a penalty. Thus, one goal in the return leg in Madrid would basically cement a place in the Belin final for the Old Lady. Luckily for Juve fans, striker Alvaro Morata found that goal, and Juventus moved on 3-2 on aggregate.
Now, Juve moves on to their first Champions’ League final in a decade against Barcelona and the most devastating attacking trio European soccer has seen in quite sometime. Luckily for Juve fans, the Italian side is known as some of the best defenders in the entire world, and if anyone can contain Barcelona, it’s Juventus. However, the fact remains that Juventus reached this final against all odds, and for fans of the Old Lady, they must be feeling that she is quite grand in the grand scheme of the beautiful game.