The final was played in Rome against reigning champs Ajax. It was 22 May 1996, it ended 1-1. Then came the penalties: the Bianconeri did not miss one, while Peruzzi saved two. Jugovic approached the penalty spot wearing a smile for the last kick. His smile turned into a cry of joy after a few seconds. Juventus became Champions of Europe.

 

3

The team underwent drastic changes the following year: offensive players Vialli and Ravanelli left, and Boksic, Vieri and Amoruso arrived. Montero and Zidane also joined the team to bolster the defence and midfield. The Bianconeri were back on the top of the world, after Del Piero’s goal clinched a victory against River Plate in the Intercontinental Cup held in Tokyo. The Championship was sealed again, as well as the UEFA Super Cup against Paris St.Germain. Unfortunately a European victory escaped the team in Munich: the Borussia Dortmund team featuring former Bianconeri Moeller and Paulo Sousa was the winner. The Champions League disappointment was repeated the following year, when the Bianconeri were defeated by Real Madrid in Amsterdam during the final. However, the championship was won once again thanks to the fine form shown by Inzaghi and Del Piero. The following season, Del Piero suffered an injury on 8 November 1998 in Udine. Juventus, without their guiding light, struggled to keep up the pace and Lippi gave way to Ancelotti on the bench.

After two unsuccessful seasons, Lippi returned home in 2001: the manager from Viareggio took over the team who, without Inzaghi and Zidane, could count on the vital signings of Buffon, Thuram and Nedved. The championship went right down to the wire: Inter were leading on the last day and played against Lazio in Rome. Juventus, in Udine, started out very strong and went ahead in the first fifteen minutes. Inter, instead, oundered, made a recovery, fought and then sunk.

The immense joy of Del Piero and Trezeguet, along with Ronaldo’s tears: these are the images which mark the history of Italian Championship number 26. The tricoloured shield remained on the Juve’s jersey for the following season, but it was the only joy in a sad year. Giovanni Agnelli died on 24 January 2003 and the club and its fans were in mourning. In May, the team suffered another setback, losing the Champions League final on penalties in Manchester against Milan.

15 July proved to be an important date for the club: Juventus signed an agreement with the Municipality of Turin for the acquisition of a 99 year lease for the Delle Alpi Stadium, where the new stadium would be built. In the meantime, in August the team played the Italian Super Cup in the USA and got its revenge by beating Milan. However, the celebration was short- lived as the death of President Vittorio Caissotti di Chiusano was announced. Franzo Grande Stevens, deputy chairman of FIAT took his place. Following the Super Cup victory, the remainder of the season was unfulfilling for Juventus, and the club was again in deep mourning the next spring when Umberto Agnelli passed away on 27 May 2004.

The following season Fabio Capello assumed control of the team. New players included the Brazilian Emerson, Fabio Cannavaro and Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Their performance in Europe was less than brilliant, but Juventus was unstoppable in Italy and achieved two consecutive championships, smashing records and leaving opponents trailing.

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