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Juventus profile: dominant in Italy, sights on Europe

Juventus profile: dominant in Italy, sights on Europe

Ajax has been matched to Juventus, the dominant force in Italy, in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.  The Old Lady, as the club is nicknamed, has won the Series A title for the past 7 seasons.  Juventus has now set its sights on European success.

The game against Juventus is special for Edwin van der Sar.  Ajax’s current General Manager has a history of playing in Turin.  He left Ajax for Juventus in 1999, where he was under contract for two years.  Van der Sar then chose to move to England, where he played for Fulham and Manchester United.  Edgar Davids, also from that generation, is another famous example of a player who has been active for both Ajax and Juventus.

Reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo
The upcoming game against Juventus means a reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo.  The superstar left Real Madrid for Juventus last summer.  The Portuguese player was incredibly successful with Real, especially in Europe.  During his time in Madrid, Ronaldo hoisted the famous large Cup four times.

Ajax met Real and Ronaldo three times between 2010 and 2012 in the Champions League group phase, but unfortunately with very little success.  Ajax lost all 6 of the meetings against the Madrid team.

Last week, Ronaldo became the centre of attention once again.  Juventus had lost its first game against Atletico Madrid by 2-0, so not an ideal position for the team.  But thanks to Ronaldo, a spot in the quarterfinals was earned.  The 5-time player of the year was responsible for the entire goal production in the 3-0 win.

Last meetings 10 years ago
Ajax and Juventus met for the last time in 2009-2010, in the second round of the UEFA Europa League.  Ajax played at home first then as well, but did not manage to put themselves in a good position for the away game (1-2).  The return game was scoreless, and Ajax was eliminated from the European tournament.

But the games between Ajax and Juventus which took place in the 90s are much more well-known, and these were also in more advanced rounds of the Champions League.  In 1995-1996, they even met in the final.  Ajax was the reigning champion, but was unable to prolong its title.  The match in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome ended in a 1-1 draw.  Late in the first half, Jari Litmanen evened up the game to 1-1 after Fabrizio Ravanelli’s opening goal, and penalty kicks ensued as a result.  The series ended badly for Ajax.

One season later, the Italians were again a thorn in Ajax’s side.  This time, the setting was the Champions League semifinals.  In front of their home crowd, the Ajacieds were unable to put themselves in a good position for the return (1-2).  The return game in Turin was a loss as well (4-1).

Ajax defeats Juve in Europa Cup 1-final 1973
We need to go back to the 70s to find Ajax’s last win against Juventus.  Let’s kick off with Ajax’s best memory of playing Juventus.

On May 30, 1973, the teams faced each other in the Europa Cup 1 final.  A quick goal by Johnny Rep was enough to secure Ajax’s 3rd Europa Cup win in a row (1-0) in Begrade.

One season later, another double meeting took place.  Ajax was eliminated based on Juventus’ away goal (2-1 in Amsterdam, 1-0 in Turin).  This was the last time that Ajax was able to defeat the black-and-white clad team.

Here is a summary of all 12 previous game between Ajax and Juventus

30 Mei 1973: Final Europa Cup 1 Ajax - Juventus 1-0

27 November 1974: 3rd round UEFA Cup Juventus - Ajax 1-0

11 December 1974: 3rd round UEFA Cup Ajax - Juventus 2-1

1 March 1978:Quarterfinals Europa Cup 2 Ajax Juventus 1-1

15 March 1978: Quarterfinals Europa Cup 2 Juventus - Ajax 1-1

22 May1996: Final Champions League Ajax - Juventus 1-1

9 April 1997: Semfinals Champions League Ajax - Juventus 1-2

23 April 1997: Semfinals Champions League Juventus - Ajax 4-1

15 September 2004: Group phase Champions League Ajax - Juventus 0-1

23 November 2004: Group phase Champions League Juventus - Ajax 1-0

18 February 2010: 2nd round Europa League Ajax - Juventus 1-2

25 February 2010: 2nd round Europa League Juventus - Ajax 0-0

Balance

Wins for Ajax 2 x

Draws 4 x

Wins for Juventus 6 x

Goals Ajax 9

Goals Juventus 15