Premier League

Borussia Dortmund defy the odds in 1997

Juventus were reigning European champions from 1996

Borussia Dortmund’s own website dubbed it a “triumph of the ages” on the 25th anniversary of the club’s greatest hour, triumphing over Juventus in the 1997 Champions League final.

As reigning European champions, Juventus were considered overwhelming favourites.

Marcello Lippi’s side had done in the previous year’s final what the great AC Milan of mid-1990s could not and bested Louis van Gaal’s generational Ajax team.

They had lost captain Gianluca Vialli and prolific strike partner Fabrizio Ravanelli since then, but Christian Vieri and Alen Boksic weren’t exactly shabby replacements. Paolo Montero was the perfect uncompromising foil for Ciro Ferrara at the back, while there was also the small matter of bringing in a 24-year-old Frenchman by the name of Zinedine Zidane.

Juventus would shortly win Serie A again for the second time in three seasons as they wrestled domestic power away from Milan, conceding only 24 times in 34 games. Only one goal in six Champions League group games went past starting Italy goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi, also beating Manchester United home and away in the opening phase, before thrashing Ajax in the semi-finals.

They were, in short, a team who struck fear into the heart of everyone across Europe.

Juventus were reigning European champions from 1996

Juventus were reigning European champions from 1996 / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

Dortmund and Juventus had previously met in the 1993 UEFA Cup final, which the latter won 6-1 over two legs. Juve later knocked Dortmund out at the semi-final stage of the same competition in 1995, while the following season’s Champions League group stage saw Dortmund’s only win in the fixture – a dead rubber as far as Juventus were concerned after previously sweeping them away.

BVB were Germany’s pre-eminent club in the late 1950s and early 1960s, before the Bundesliga era gave rise to Bayern Munich, and they had reached a European Cup semi-final in 1964. But they had faded into relative obscurity over the decades that followed.

That all changed in 1991, with the appointment of Ottmar Hitzfeld – in 2001 he later become only the second manager to win the European Cup with two different clubs – and an aggressive recruitment strategy in the transfer market. Dortmund started to do well in the UEFA Cup and in 1994/95 landed a first German title in 32 years. They then retained it a year later.

For all Juventus’ prestige, this wasn’t exactly a Dortmund team of nobodies.

Matthias Sammer was presented with the 1996 Ballon d’Or just months earlier. Stefan Reuter…

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