Reliving Juventus’ best Champions League goals vs. Real Madrid

This year’s Champions League finalists, Juventus and Real Madrid, have met on seven different occasions in the competition, totalling 13 matches, including the 1998 final.

While that may seem like a lot of encounters between the two heavyweights since the inception of the Champions League, they’ve been spread out sporadically enough as not to feel as tedious as the Barcelona-PSG games in recent years or the matches between Barcelona and Arsenal at the beginning of the decade. This is a healthy rivalry between two of the game’s most regal clubs. Juventus have netted 16 goals against Los Blancos, here are five of the best.

5. Michele Padovano – 1995/96 Quarter Final Second Leg

Both sides were making their debuts in the newly christened Champions League, which was in its fourth season by 1995/96, and they squared off in the quarter final stage. Real won the first leg 1 – 0 at the Santiago Bernabéu thanks to a goal from a young Raúl.

Two weeks later came the second leg, where Juve took an early lead through a fine Alessandro Del Piero free kick. With the tie now level on aggregate, the home side pushed forward in search of a second.

A Juventus corner wasn’t properly dealt with by the Spaniards and the ball fell to Angelo Di Livio on the edge of the area. Di Livio then shunted the ball to his right towards Pietro Vierchowod, the defender then ran inside and attempted an almost comical left-footed pass to Gianluca Vialli. The striker prodded the ball back towards the periphery of the box to centre-back Sergio Porrini, whom upon seeing that all of the Madrid defenders had tried to play offside, gently brushed the ball towards Michele Padovano on his left.

Padovano, later of Crystal Palace infamy, was completely unmarked as he controlled the ball with his left foot before steadying himself to arrow the ball across Santiago Cañizares into the bottom corner of the net. Juve’s turnaround was complete.

Padovano, a reserve striker for Fabrizio Ravanelli and Vialli, would score a penalty in the final as Juve won their second and last – despite many attempts – European Cup/Champions League against Ajax in Rome. “It was the best evening of my life,” Padovano would later say.

4. David Trezeguet – 2004/05 Round of 16 Second Leg

Some 22 months after their epic semi-final clash, the two were paired again, this time two rounds earlier. Fabio Capello’s Juventus had topped their group ahead of Bayern Munich, whilst their opponents finished second in group B behind Bayer Leverkusen.

Real won the first leg 1 – 0, much like in 1995/96, through an Iván Helguera goal, however Juventus were confident they could overturn the deficit in Turin. Capello, in a rare act of attacking verve, went very un-Capello and started the game with three – yes, three – strikers.

One of those three strikers wasn’t David Trezeguet, who was coming back from an injury layoff. Trezeguet could only make the bench as Alex Del Piero, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Marcelo Zalayeta all started.

The Bianconeri attacked but by half time had no goals to show for their efforts, with all three strikers wasting glorious chances to get back on level terms. In the 54th minute Capello hauled off Del Piero to a chorus of boos from the home fans, to be replaced by Trezeguet.

As the clock slowly ticked away, it felt like Juve simply couldn’t engineer a goal; their attacks were too slow and when they did manage to find a way through, Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas was in inspirational form. Then came the equaliser.

Mauro Camoranesi floated in a deep, very deep, cross to the far post. The ball was going out for a goal kick when Ibrahimovic jumped and seemingly hung in the air like a peak Michael Jordan, to head the ball backwards into the centre of the box. Trezeguet’s movement was sublime, as he originally followed the flight of the ball but stopped and dropped back like a classic poacher, leaving Real defender Helguera chasing shadows.

The Swede’s header bounced high off the Torinese turf and Trezeguet acrobatically contorted his body to slam the ball home, with a brilliantly taken overhead kick to take the game into extra time. Zalayeta would finish the game off, rifling the ball into Casillas’ bottom corner from the edge of the box with the prospect of penalties only four minutes away.

Just like in 1996, the tie was turned around. Juve were through, just.

3. Alessandro Del Piero – 2008/09 Group Stage

There was something about playing against Real Madrid that inspired Del Piero. The No.10 seemingly relished nights under the lights against Los Merengues. This top five could’ve easily just have been a collection of wondrous Del Piero strikes against the Spaniards.

Three and a half years had passed since their last meeting, and it was Juve’s first season back in Europe’s elite competition since the events of Calciopoli. The Juventus side of 2008, under the tutelage of Claudio Ranieri, bared little resemblance to the all-star like team of 2005. The Old Lady had lost a lot of her shine in the public eye and a lack of money meant this incarnation of Juventus contained little by way of world-class talent.

Yet even with all the upheaval, Del Piero was still the constant; then aged 33, he had scored a marvelous free kick in the Group H opener against Zenit St. Petersburg and it took him only five minutes to make an impact on match day three.

Claudio Marchisio, one of only two players still at the club, fizzed the ball into the feet of Del Piero from midfield. Juve’s captain was being closely tailed by fellow Italian Fabio Cannavaro – who swapped clubs in the aftermath of Calciopoli – and delicately flicked the ball around the defender with the outside of his foot to Amauri.

The Brazilian, who later became nationalized and would play for Italy, was in his honeymoon period for the Bianconeri. The mere mention of his name nowadays is enough to send shivers down the spines of any Juventus fan, but during this time Amauri was coming as close as he ever would to justifying his grossly overinflated price tag.

Receiving Del Piero’s flick with his back to goal, Amauri – some 30 yards out – controlled the ball whilst biding his time for the surging No.10 to reemerge into his eye line. Once Del Piero was there, Amauri slipped a beautiful reverse pass through the legs of Real centre-back Pepe, into his path, and Del Piero took over.

Noticing that Iker Casillas was standing on the edge of the six-yard box, Del Piero slowed his momentum, arced his body and instantly bent the ball wonderfully over the Madrid goalkeeper into the left-hand corner of Casillas’ goal, leaving the Spanish international completely rooted to the spot.

Cue Del Piero’s famous tongue-out celebration that he adopted late in his career. A lot had changed at Juventus in the years proceeding Calciopoli, but Del Piero tormenting Casillas remained the constant, just like the man himself.

Del Piero would repeat the trick two weeks later, scoring a splendid brace in a 2 – 0 win that saw him emulate Ronaldinho and Diego Maradona in earning a standing ovation from the home fans, fully appreciating greatness when they saw it. “It’s like winning a trophy,” Del Piero said of gaining the respect of the Madridistas.  For a player who won the two biggest trophies in the game, that’s quite the statement.

2. Pavel Nedved – 2002/03 Semi Final Second Leg

This was to be the Czech’s coronation as the finest player in the world. If it can be proven that a player could win a Ballon d’Or based upon on a single game, it would be Pavel Nedved in this game in May 2003.

The midfielder ruthlessly exposed Real Madrid’s shortcomings without the presence of the then underappreciated and soon to be sold Claude Makélélé. In retrospect, this was the game that set the Galactico project on its downward trajectory, from which it would never recover. It all began with Nedved’s masterful performance.

A familiar story had once again played out; Real had won the first leg in the Spanish capital, by two goals to one on this occasion, and in the return leg, the Old Lady stormed back to win the game and the tie. Yet that doesn’t delve into the context of the two games.

Real were the reigning European champions and had dispatched a Manchester United side in the previous round that had thoroughly trounced Juve 3 – 0 in Turin in the second group stage (remember that?). Stardust was sprinkled in every department and they had just the right balance before that critical summer of 2003.

In a near sold-out Stadio delle Alpi (or as near sold out as the hated stadium could be), Juventus would turn the tie upside down in a dominating performance that is hailed as one of the finest in the club’s history.

Nedved was at the heart of everything brilliant about Juventus; the Real midfield simply couldn’t contain him. The Czech’s aggression and dynamism wreaked havoc and he was involved in Juve’s opening goal after just 11 minutes.

Some 61 minutes later came his piéce de résistance, the crowning moment of a career-best campaign. Gianluca Zambrotta gained control of the ball just inside his own half, and with the ball bouncing, he spotted Nedved darting in behind Fernando Hierro. Zambrotta lofted a beautiful half-volley over Hierro’s head into the space behind him, Nedved gave chase and the 35-year-old defender simply wasn’t going to keep up with the Czech.

As the ball bounced just inside the Real penalty box and with right back Michel Salgado closing in from his left hand side, Nedved smashed a sumptuous volley with the top of his foot that flew into the bottom corner. Game, tie, and the Galactico era, well and truly over.

Nedved had initially struggled in Turin as a direct replacement for Zinedine Zidane, with many preferring the Frenchman’s more languid and sophisticated style of play to the ferociousness of the Czech. But Nedved, in full Patrick Swayze mode, had won the hearts of the Juve fans by the end of his second season. The clambering for their former idol had all but disappeared.

It was also a bittersweet night for him, as he would pick up a second yellow card and miss the all-Italian showdown with Milan, with the Bianconeri again coming up short on the final hurdle.

1. Alessandro Del Piero – 2002/03 Semi Final Second Leg

I was lucky enough to live great emotions against Real Madrid, memorable victories, marled by equally important goals. Probably the most beautiful is the one I scored at home, in the second leg of the semi finals of 2003.”

Considering Del Piero played against the Spanish behemoths nine times and scored five goals during his Juventus career, for the player to acknowledge this goal as his finest speaks volumes for the majesty of the strike. It was a goal that captured the very best of post-1998 injury Del Piero.

The Italian had endured difficult times following his return from a torn ACL injury in late 1998. Juventus fans waited patiently for two years for the ‘old’ Del Piero to return, before struggling to come to terms with the fact that the 23-year-old version would never again resurface. The knee injury had robbed him of that electric burst of acceleration that used to be able to beat players at will.

Del Piero had to massively re-modify his game, no longer able to simply beat players en masse; he had to become a smarter, more cerebral player. By 2002/03 he was hitting his best form for five years, bearing some resemblance to the Del Piero the fans still clung onto.

He had been involved in the equaliser earlier in the game, in a move that shares an uncanny similarity to goal No.4 on this list, with Del Piero taking the place of Ibrahimovič in this particular sequence. Then, two minutes before half time, Del Piero would strike a blow through the heart of Vicente Del Bosque’s side.

A wild, high ball from Alessio Tacchinardi near the centre circle found its way to the Juve No.10 just inside the area on the left hand side, with Real attempting a poor excuse for an offside trap. Del Piero’s control failed him somewhat as the ball rolled to his left, but he regained control of the ball and was faced by Hierro.

Del Piero took several touches before shifting the ball to his right, seemingly with the intention of shooting. However, he dragged his right foot over the ball, pulling it back ever so slightly, before feinting and shimmying to his right once more – completely bamboozling Hierro and Salgado – and unleashing a rocket into the bottom corner of Casillas’ net from no more than 12 yards out.

If ever there was a goal that characterized the ‘new’ Del Piero, this was surely it—a goal based upon intelligence and ball control rather than outstripping opposing players for pace. Gone were the ‘zona Del Piero’ days, but what remained was a shrewder and more creative player.

Words by Emmet Gates: @EmmetGates

Emmet is a freelance football writer based in Italy. He is the creator of Goal O’ The Times. As well as The Gentleman Ultra, he has written for FourFourTwo, These Football Times and In Bed With Maradona.