Juventus vs Lyon by JerryDrake
Serie A does not exist
This is the statement made by Juventus coach Antonio Conte before the second leg of the Europa League Quarter Final with Lyon. I can believe that this statement has become an headline in the UEFA offical webpage as I have never heard Conte using such words. He officially always gave his priority to the Serie A underlining how second placed Roma can still get closer to the top of the table. Only this must let us understand how important has become the achievement of the Europa League semifinals.
11 years without European semifinals
Last time Juventus reached an International semifinal was when they eliminated Barcelona from the Champions League in April 2003. They would have then eliminate Real Madrid and lose the final with Milan. Since then Juventus reached and lost three quarter finals with Liverpool (2005), Arsenal (2006) and Bayern (last year). After defeating Lyon in the first leg (1-0 in France), Juventus have the opportunity they are not allowed to miss: to defend this result and qualify to next stage.
The Old Lady has a date
When Michel Platini played his last match in his carreer after the Serie A match with Brescia on May 17, 1987 he gave his farewell with these words: “I played with Nancy because it was the team of my hometown. I played with Saint-Étienne because it was the best team in France. I played with Juventus because Juventus is the best team in the world”. Michel Platini, former Juventus player and now president of UEFA, will be in Turin next Wednesday for a special ceremony when the throphy will be handed over to the city of Turin (source: Uefa.com). The final of the Europa League will be played in Turin on May 14.
The King of Turin: Le Roi
If Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero wrote Juventus history in the last decades, it was Michel Platini the first Juventus historian after the re-opening of football borders in the early 80s. Platini played 147 games in Serie A scoring 68 goals, each of them with his own style through magic free kicks and artistic and harmonious movements, 36 games and 19 goals in Champions Cup and in the European Cup Winners' Cup. With him Juventus won their first Champions Cup and Intercontinental Cup. All 1982 World Champions playing with Juventus (Paolo Rossi, Marco Tardelli, Dino Zoff, Antonio Cabrini, Claudio Gentile) have always recognised the leadership, technical skills as well as the human qualities of one of the best players Juventus have had in their long history.
Thank you, Michel
I personally met Michel Platini only once even though I saw him playing a couple of times in Serie A. It was during a match of the Italian National team in Austria: at the end of the first half he went to the VIP lounge and nobody recognized him. I was meters away from him in another sector. I called him (without hoping that he will come in my direction). He came to me and signed an autograph. I told him: “Thank you for everything you have done for Juventus”. He answered with a long lasting and happy smile. And this was 21 years after his last Juventus game.
Reality check number 2
To dream about a final to be played in Turin does not mean that the final has already been achieved. As I wrote in my “Lyon - Juventus” preview before the first leg, there is a man specialized in reality checks. His name is Antonio Conte, the only coach in the quarter finals who have won the Europa League as professional player. If Conte and Platini would have played in the same period, Conte would have played the role had by Marco Tardelli in the 80s. As Platini said once: “There was a man who used to run for two, for himself and for me, it was Tardelli”. In the late 90s and in the new millennium it was Conte to run for Zidane and Del Piero. His presence in the bench is a continous motivation for the players who are encouraged to keep doing their best
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