Juventus resurgence in European football

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Juventus resurgence in European football

Soon after their victory over Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal, the shares in football club Juventus jumped as much as 8.7 per cent to 0.32 euro cents.

By Sunil K. Vaidya (sports Editor)

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Published: Sat 16 May 2015, 12:13 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:09 PM

It will be a déjà vu for at least three Italian footballers when Juventus end their 12-year-long wait and celebrate the resurgence of Italian club football with a shot at the Champions League title on June 7 at Berlin against Barcelona.

It will be the eighth appearance in the European Club final for Juventus but significant in many ways. And, in a sense their progress to the final is a shot in the arm for the game in Italy.

The Old Lady (la Vecchia Signora) has seen fall from grace when they were relegated to Serie B.

Juventus was mired in the ‘calciopoli’ or ‘footballville’ (match-fixing scandal) that rocked the Italian football in 2006. The scandal wrongdoings saw the game decline in Italy. At that time, Serie A was rife with corruption, fan violence, racism, financial ineptitude and match-fixing scandals and matches were played in front of low attendance in stadia. That was the time when the Italian football hit the abyss after enjoying the golden era of the 90s when the Italian league was a global soccer power.

In the 90s, Series A was a home to some of the world’s best and highest-paid players like Diego Maradona and Michel Platini. Later the Brazilian wunderkind Ronaldo and France’s Zinedine Zidane also entertained fans with their talent on the Italian grounds.

The Italian teams — AC Milan, Internazionale, and Juventus — were counted among the top teams in Europe. Six of the ten Ballon d’Or winners — the prize given for the year’s best footballer in Europe — played for Serie A clubs and the league produced a Champions League finalist for seven straight years, from 1991 to 1998.

Calciopoli was not the sole reason for Serie A’s decline, but the scandal symbolized for many the institutional rot that was preventing Italian football from competing on the European stage.

Ironically, Juventus, the club that was at the centre of calciopoli has now become a symbol for Serie A’s resurgence in European football.

Soon after their victory over Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal, the shares in football club Juventus jumped as much as 8.7 per cent to 0.32 euro cents on Thursday, indicating the turn in fortunes for the Italian giant in every aspect.

And, as they get ready to take their stocks further up with a win in the final, at least three players will have the feeling of deja vu. Juventus skipper Gianluigi Buffon must be the happiest man to see the club get back to the top. The goalkeeper has been loyal to the club along with Del Piero and Nedvěd. The two stayed with the team even when Juventus were demoted to Serie B in the wake of the match-fixing scandal.

For Buffon and Del Piero, along with Andrea Barzagli the memories of 2006 World Cup will be revived when they come to Berlin for the title match. It is here the three were party to Italy’s triumph over France.

Juventus’s march to the Champions League final has been a rare bright moment for the Italian club soccer and great hope for the better footballing fortunes to return to the banks of Venice.

sunilvaidya@khaleejtimes.com 



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