The Golden Generation of Juventus
As one of the most powerful clubs in European football, Juventus had so many up and downs through its history. In today’s article, we are going to review one of the most successful eras of the Italian club which is referred to as the golden generation of Juventus.
In the autumn of 1897,Juventus
club was founded by a bunch of young students from the Massimo d'Azeglio Lyceum school in Turin, northern Italy. Just 8 years later, Juventus gained respect by winning the Italian Football Championship which was the nation’s top flight back then. As time passed, Juventus turned to a dominant side in Italian football and won 36 Serie A, 14 Coppa Italia, and 9 Italian Supercup titles, which makes them by far the most successful club in terms of domestic competitions in Italy.
But even for such a well decorated club that won at least one league title in almost every decade since 1930s, there are some specific eras that standout as the golden years with golden generations. All football clubs around the world had their golden generation, but the story of how these dream teams shaped up and what they achieved is a unique story for each club. Now, this is the story of the golden generation of Juventus.
When Was the Golden Years of Juventus?
Just recently, Juventus set a record of winning 9 consecutive Serie A titles from 2011 to 2020. During this time, they also reached two Champions League finals but they lost both of them in 2015 and 2017. And let’s not forget about their 4 straight Coppa Italia championships from 2014 to 2018. Judging by trophies, that Juventus team in 2010s could easily be the best Juventus team in history. But you may be surprised if we tell you that
the golden generation of Juventus
that we are going to talk about in this article, is not the successful Juventus team during the 2010s. Almost 20 years earlier, Juventus had another dream team which made so many people to fall in love with the Old Lady of Italian football.
The Lippi Project
The 1980s was a successful era for Juventus as they won their first European Cup title in 1985 defeating Liverpool in a controversial final in Heysel. A UEFA Cup and European Super Cup in 1984 and 1989 respectively were among other international triumphs for the club during 80s. But the next decade didn’t start well for Juve. Despite signing Roberto Baggio – one of the greatest players of all time, on a record-breaking transfer fee in 1990, the results were below par for a club at Juve’s caliber. In 1991, Giovanni Trapattoni returned to Juventus after having a prosperous tenure at the club from 1976 to 1986.
But this time things didn’t went as expected and Trapattoni could not replicate his first spell’ achievements. Apart from a UEFA Cup in 1993, Juventus didn’t win any major trophies in the early 90s and it was time for a change. Instead of feeling nostalgic and bringing back former successful managers, Juve decided to trust a relatively young and unknown man for the job: Marcello Lippi. As a player, Marcello Lippi was a mediocre sweeper forSampdoria
who never made it to Italy national team. Right after hanging up his boots in 1982, Lippi started his coaching career by working at Sampdoria youth section.
For the next ten years, Lippi honed his coaching skills by managing numerous clubs at lower division. In 1993, Lippi found the chance to coach Napoli in Serie A which was going through a financial crisis at the time. But Marcello Lippi was not going to miss this opportunity at a well-known club to make a name for himself. Therefore, he led Napoli to a sixth-place finish which was enough for qualifying to UEFA Cup. Lippi’s decent performance at Napoli convinced Juventus to hire the 46-year-old tactician as their new head coach in the summer of 1994.
Marcello Lippi was a smart and creative coach who had superb man management skills which made him a perfect option to work at an elite club like Juventus. Also having more than a decade experience of coaching different clubs in Italian football helped Lippi to settle well at his new club and it seemed that he has everything he need to form
the golden generation of Juventus
A Promising Start
Lippi’s Juventus had a promising start to the 1994-95 season which was the manager’s debut season at club. Juve saw themselves at top of the table in January and they didn’t lose that position for the rest of the season. Lazio was their closest chaser but they couldn’t collect more than 63 points, which was 10 points below Juve’s 73. Before Lippi’s arrival, Juventus couldn’t manage to win the Serie A title for 9 straight years as their last championship in the league came in the 1985-86 season with Giovanni Trapattoni being at charge.
On the same season, Lippi’s men had a successful run in the Coppa Italia as they made their way to the final by beating both famous Roman clubs. An aggregate 3-0 win against Parma sealed Juventus’ 9th championship in the tournament. But that wasn’t the only final in that season of European football involving Juventus and Parma. In the 1994-95 season of UEFA Cup, an all-Italian final was held between Juventus and Parma but this time, it was Parma that came on top winning 2-1 after two legs with a youngGianluigi Buffon
wearing the Parma colors. So, Lippi lost the chance to complete a treble on his debut season but still, it was a great start for a manager who was experiencing his first season at an elite club.
On Top of the Europe
Winning two domestic trophies and finishing as runner-up in UEFA Cup, gave hope to Juventus fans that they are going to witness the golden generation of Juventus after years of struggling. Juve started the 1995-96 season as the defending champions of Serie A but it was Milan that got crowned as the new champions of Italy at the end of that season as Juventus finished the league on second place with 8 points shy of Milan. But Juve fans will remember the 1995-96 season with their team’s amazing European run.
As the champions of Italy, Juventus was the only Italian side among 16 participants of 1995-96 Champions League. The Bianconeri topped their group with 13 points and headed to the quarter-finals to face Real Madrid. After a 1-0 loss at Madrid, Juve put on a heroic performance at Turin and at the end of an aggressive match which both teams received a red card in it, Juve won 2-0 to eliminate Real Madrid from Champions League. The semi-finals tie againstNantes
was also another challenging game for Lippi’s men.
After a 2-0 win at Italy, Juventus thought that the job is done but Nantes was not going down easy. On the second leg match at France, Juve had to cope with Nantes’ brilliant attacking football as they scored 3 but Juve managed to stay at front with scoring 2 goals away from home which handed them an aggregate 4-3 win. The final match between Ajax and Juventus was hosted by Italy in Stadio Olimpico, Rome. It was a battle between two young managers as Ajax’sLouis van Gaal
had 45 years old back then.
After winning the 1995 Champions League with Ajax, van Gaal was ready to win his second back-to-back European trophy with a team that happened to be the golden generation of Ajax. But Juventus started on the front foot with Fabrizio Ravanelli scoring the opener which Ajax responded through Jari Litmanen before half time. The match ended 1-1 and Juventus beat Ajax 4-2 on penalty shootouts to win its second European Cup/Champions League trophy in history. Juventus saw themselves at the top of European football and that was just the beginning for the
best Juventus team
As mentioned above, Juventus has always been a dominant side in Italian domestic football but somehow, they didn’t manage to show that dominance on European level. Now it was down to the golden generation of Juventus with Marcello Lippi to add some European silverwares to the club’s cabinet and winning the Intercontinental Cup against River Plate and the UEFA Super Cup by hammering Paris Saint-Germain in 1996 were some positive signs. Juventus set foot to the 1996-97 season of Champions League as the favorites to win the tournament for the second consecutive year. Once again, they finished the group stage undefeated and knocked out the Norwegian sideRosenborg
Semi-final was a showdown between the last year’s finalists and Juventus didn’t let Ajax to retaliate as the Italian side won the tie 6-2. Now the famous big ear trophy was one step away and Juventus had to compete with Borussia Dortmund over it in the Olympiastadion, Munich, Germany. Surprisingly, the underdogs came on top and Juventus lost the final 3-1. That was the third time in history that Juventus finished Champions League as the runner-up. But the golden generation of Juventus didn’t lose their desire after that heartbreaking defeat. Juve finished the group stage behind Manchester United and had a relatively easy job against Dynamo Kyiv in quarter-finals.
Juventus vs Monaco in semi-finals was a thrilling one and after two legs, Juventus won the tie 6-4. The final was held in Amsterdam Arena, Netherlands and Jupp Heynckes’ Real Madrid was aiming for their first championship since 1966. Predrag Mijatović’s sole goal handed Real Madrid the win and Juventus lost their second Champions League final in two years. On his second spell at Juventus from 2001 to 2004, Marcello Lippi reached his fourth Champions League final with Juve but once again, he had to accept the silver medal as his side lost the match to Milan on penalties. Since then, Juve also reached two UCL finals in 2015 and 2017 and lost both of them which made people to think if the European curse is real!
Juventus reached three consecutive finals from 1996 to 1998 and only won one of them. But on the Serie A front, they didn’t budge. Marcello Lippi won his first Serie A title in 1994-95 season which was his debut season with Juventus. On his second season, he lost the Scudetto battle to Milan but Juventus won its 24th title in the season after that with finishing only two points aboveParma
. In the 1997-98 Serie A season, the championship race was a classic battle between two archrivals Juventus and Internazionale.
Juve lost only two league matches throughout the season and that helped them to finish the league with 5 points higher than Inter. During his five years at the club, Marcello Lippi won 9 titles including 3 Serie A titles, 2 Italian Supercups, and one Coppa Italia title. After Lippi’s departure in the winter of 1999, the golden generation of Juventus didn’t win as much as expected with Carlo Ancelotti being at charge. In 2001 Lippi reunited with Juventus and won another two league titles with Bianconeri in addition to two Italian Supercups.
Key Players in the Golden Generation of Juventus (1990s)
Usually, football legends are a part of golden generations in their club or national team and that is why many of
raised to fame by playing in the best Juventus team in 1990s. Traditionally, Juventus have had plenty of representees in Italy national team and there is no surprise why the best players in Italy wouldn’t mind moving to Juve to increase their chances of getting a call up by the national team. In addition to the finest Italian players, Juventus also benefited from word class foreigner players through 90s and they definitely had a crucial role in Lippi’s success at Juve. Long story short, these are our picks for the most influential players in the golden generation of Juventus through 1990s:
Apart from foods and artists, Italian goalkeepers are also one of the best ones in the world. Angelo Peruzzi was the first goalkeeper of Marcello Lippi’s dream team in 90s and during his prime days, Peruzzi was renowned as one of the best keepers in the world. He started his senior career at Roma in 1987 but as a youngster, didn’t find enough playing time at Italian capital and left forHellas Verona
on loan. After playing regularly at Hellas for one season, Juventus signed Peruzzi in 1991 when he was 21 years old.
On his debut season at Juve he was the second-choice keeper but since the start of 1992-93 season Peruzzi became Juve’s number 1 and a key player in one of the most successful Juve squads. He also represented Italy national team in 31 games but for the better part of his international career, Peruzzi was a backup goalkeeper on national team. Nevertheless, Angelo Peruzzi was a reliable goalkeeper for Juventus who stood between the posts in 301 games and submitted 123 clean sheets in those games until he left the club in 1999.
As a homegrown talent,Ciro Ferrara
was a fan favorite during his time at Napoli from 1984 to 1994 which was Napoli’s golden years as they won two Serie A titles and a UEFA Cup with having Diego Armando Maradona in their team. After 10 delightful years, Ferrara traveled from the southern part of Italy to join Juventus in the northern part of the country. He was a 27-year-old defender at the top of his career when he joined Juve and immediately became a leader in Juve’s squad on and off the pitch.
With Marcello Lippi being at charge, Juventus had one of the most efficient defensive lines across Europe and Ciro Ferrara was the main man in leading that back line. Ferrara had so many good qualities which made him one of the best defenders of his generation. In addition to fantastic defensive capabilities, Ferrara had decent ball playing skills as well which was a rare characteristic for defenders back then. The Italian international stayed at Juventus for the rest of his career until in 2005 said his farewell to the green pitch.
Compared to other key players mentioned in this article, Zinedine Zidane was the latest player who joined Juventus as he was playing for Bordeaux until 1996. despite not being a part of Juve’s Champions League winning team in 1995-96 season, Zidane’s brilliant career at Juve made him an untouchable player in
Juventus all time XI
. At the time of signing for Juve, the French attacking midfilder was only 24 years old. Marcello Lippi recognized his talent and even decided to change Juve’s playing style in a way that fits Zidane the most.
During his time at Juve, Zidane was being deployed somewhere between the midfielders and attackers and had the freedom to roam in that area. Thanks to his spectacular technique and creative mind, he was an all-around attacking midfilder whose moves were unpredictable for oppositions defenders. Zidane spent five years of his career at Juventus before joining Real Madrid in 2001 and in fact, it was in Juventus where he managed to win the Ballon d’Or award in 1998; the same year that he won the World Cup with France national team.
Alessandro Del Piero
Most of us has seen what an exceptional player Alessandro Del Piero was during 2000s and how he turned out to be one of the most popular Juventus legends. With 290 goals Del Piero is Juve’s all time top scorer and also the all time most capped player with 705 matches in all competitions. But many argue that the best version of Alessandro Del Piero was at the early stages of his career in 1990s when he was a young attacker who could do magics with the ball. Unfortunately, Del Piero suffered from heavy injuries in the late 90s and what we see from him in the later stage of his career, was only a shadow of who he actually was before those horrible injuries.
One year prior to Lippi’s appointment at the club, the 19-year-old Alessandro Del Piero joined Juventus fromPadova
as a highly talented youngster. After putting on decent performances on his debut season as a sporadic player, Del Piero was given more minutes under Marcello Lippi. He was a versatile attacker who could perform whether as a winger or a striker. With his agility and incredible finishing skill, Alessandro Del Piero was one of the most exciting youngsters in the world and had a huge role in leading Juventus to glory as he scored so many crucial goals both on domestic and European competitions.
Juventus was blessed with some of the top-class forwards throughout 90s such as Roberto Baggio, Gianluca Vialli, Pierluigi Casiraghi, and Christian Vieri. But Fabrizio Ravanelli was the striker who became the iconic face of the golden generation of Juventus. Although he only served Juve from 1992 to 1996, but he managed to leave his mark on Marcello Lippi’s magnificent first two seasons at Juventus. The Italian goal scorer started his career at his hometown clubPerugia
in 1986 and after playing for several clubs in Italian football, joined Juventus in 1992.
Ravanelli was not that kind of strikers that scores at least 20 goals each season, but his contribution to the team made him a complete player who managers would love to have him in their starting lineup. He was a big guy who knew how to distract defenders with his link up play and make key passes for other attackers including Del Piero. Fabrizio Ravanelli was also the player who scored the opener in the 1995 Champions League final against Ajax in a match that ended 1-1 with Juve winning at penalties. So, there is no wonder why he has a special place inside every Juventus fan’s heart.
is one of the other players that arrived at Juventus at the same time with Marcello Lippi in 1994. The French midfielder was part of Marseille Champions League winning team in 1993 which is the only French side in history that managed to win the competition as of today. After playing for Nantes, Marseille, and Bordeaux respectively, Juventus was Deschamps first experience abroad. Due to his exquisite style of play as a defensive midfielder, it didn’t take him long to cement his place as one of the regular starters in Lippi’s team.
Didier Deschamps was a smart player who could take part on both attacking and defending phases of the game. He is often regarded as member of Juventus all time XI and judging by his achievements at the club through five years, he totally deserves that spot. Deschamps also had a perfect international career with France as he led his side to two major championships in the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 EUROs as the captain. He is also one of the few men in history that lift the World Cup trophy both as a captain and manager of his home country.
An interesting fact about
the golden generation of Juventus
is that many of the key players who served under Marcello Lippi, went on to become world class managers after their retirmenet as a football player. Zidane has won three Champions League titles in a row with Real Madrid, Deschamps has won the World Cup with France, and Antonio Conte earned the nickname “Serial Winner” due to his impressive coaching career at Juventus, Chelsea, and Inter. At the age of 22, Conte was hired by Giovanni Trapattoni in 1991 and became a key player in the middle of the pitch both for Juve and Italy national team.
His hard work and aggressiveness were admired by Lippi as well and he got deployed on various positions due to his versatility. Antonio Conte was mainly a box-to-box midfilder who could dominate the middle of the pitch with his relentless pressing ability. He was also a hidden weapon on the attacking front as he could take long-range shots and was a kind of specialist in scoring volley goals. After playing 420 games for Juventus, Antonio Conte hanged up his boots in 2004 as one of the Juventus legends.
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