Juventus will be flying the Italian flag high and proud when they host Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League this evening.
Perhaps indicative of how low Serie A has slumped in recent years, Massimiliano Allegri’s side are the only Italian club left in the competition after earlier exits for Roma and Napoli.
May will mark 12 years since they last appeared in a European final, and they are still hunting for a magical European evening to truly abolish memories of the defeat to AC Milan at Old Trafford in 2003.
If Juventus do battle past Klopp’s rejuvenated side, they would reach the quarter-finals of the tournament for just the second time since 2006, where Arsenal beat them 2-0 to progress to the last four of the competition.
Despite Antonio Conte transforming them into a side capable of domestic domination, he could not guide them towards the European trophy fans of the club have been pining for ever since they last lifted it way back in 1996.
Last year they endured the humiliation of being eliminated in the group stages, with eventual winners Real Madrid and Galatasary qualifying ahead of them to consign them to a date in the Europa League.
In 2013 they were also beaten by the eventual champions in the form of Jupp Hynckes’ Bayern Munich, who thumped them 4-1 on home soil to turn many footballing heads in their direction.
For the majority of the season Dortmund have juggled European duties with domestic danger, but three consecutive victories over SC Freiburg, Mainz 05 and VfB Stuttgart have put them firmly on course to remain in the Bundesliga.
Marco Reus has been in scintillating form ever since penning a new contract extension, whilst the German juggernaut will also be hoping misfiring forward Ciro Immobile guns down his former employers.
Much may depend on the form of Carlos Tevez and Paul Pogba, with the former reportedly edging closer towards a summer return to Boca Juniors in spite of scoring 14 times in 22 league games and clocking up seven assists along the way.
After underachieving in recent years this term’s competition now represents a huge opportunity for Allegri to make his mark at the club.
Rather inevitably they currently sit firmly atop of the league standings, and are on course to win a fourth consecutive Scudetto with Roma losing pace in recent weeks.
If they do lift Europe’s biggest prize, it would end years of hurt. Failure to do so could further embed Italian football into a rut that shows no sign of ending.
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