Juventus are one of just 13 sides to have been crowned European champions more than once. It is perhaps disappointing (at least from the point of view of Juve fans) that The Old Lady have only managed that feat twice. Not least because they hold the rather unwanted record of having lost in the European Cup/Champions League final more than any other side – they’ve fallen at the final hurdle a massive seven times!
Juventus are the most successful club side in Italy on the domestic front having won 36 Serie A titles to near-rivals Inter’s and AC Milan’s 19 titles. But Inter Milan have landed one more European Cup/Champions League than Juve, and AC Milan are way ahead, having been crowned European champions seven times.
In this article, we’ll give details of Juve’s two European titles, one in the European Cup and one when the tournament had been rebranded as the Champions League. We’ll also outline what happened in the other less successful finals, most recently in 2017. Finally, we’ll run through some of Juventus’s worst results and biggest disappointments in Europe’s top club competition.
When Did Juventus Last Win the Champions League
Juventus last won the Champions League in May 1996 when they beat Dutch side, Ajax, at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The legendary Marcello Lippi was Juve’s coach at the time and his side took an early lead through Fabrizio Ravanelli before Finnish forward Jari Litmanen got an equaliser before half time. It stayed 1-1 through normal time and extra time before Juve eventually triumphed 4-2 on penalties.
Champions League Finals
As mentioned, Juventus have been runners-up more than any other side in the history of the European Cup or Champions League, losing two more finals than the two sides next in line (Bayern Munich and Benfica have both lost five times). Juve have lost their last five finals, most recently to Real Madrid in 2017. It would have been the 2003 defeat on penalties to fellow Italians AC Milan that really stung though.
|2003||AC Milan||Lost||3-2 on penalties (0-0 after 90 minutes and extra time)|
|1996||Ajax||Won||4-2 on penalties (1-1 after 90 minutes and extra time)|
Stage of Elimination
At the time of writing, Juve have competed in 36 European Cup/Champions League tournaments. As well as winning twice and finishing as runners-up seven times, they’ve also made it to the semis three times (1999, 1978 and 1968). It is also a noteworthy achievement that they have made it to the quarter final or beyond in 52% of the tournaments in which they’ve competed.
|Stage||Number of Times||Percentage|
|Round of 16||6||17%|
|Round of 32||2||6%|
Note that the information in the table is correct ahead of the 2022/23 Champions League and that some rounds and the tournament format have changed over the decades.
Times Juventus Won the Cup
Juventus lost two finals before they were finally successful in the European Cup, and here’s what transpired.
1996: Juve Gain Revenge Against Ajax
Juventus’s last Champions League victory allowed the Italians to gain revenge against Ajax, the side that beat Juve in their first final back in 1973. The final took place in Rome, hence Turin-based Juve almost had a home advantage. But things didn’t go perfectly to plan for Marcello Lippi’s men in the final and it was a tough old night against Louis van Gaal’s Ajax, who were the reigning champions after beating Milan in the previous year’s final.
Juve had a very good team at the time that included Alessandro Del Piero, Didier Deschamps and Gianluca Vialli. But Ajax had plenty of top-quality players of their own, notably Frank and Ronald de Boer, Edgar Davids and goalkeeper, Edwin van der Sar. It was a relatively tight game and there wasn’t much between the sides on the night and after goals from Ravanelli and Litmanen, it went to penalties. Juve scored all four of their kicks but Ajax missed two (Davids and Sonny Silooy the culprits) so the Italians won their second European title and Ajax missed out on their fifth. Juve would make the final in 1997 and 1998 in what was a golden era for the club but this remains their most recent success.
They fought their way through to this final by beating Real Madrid in the quarters, overcoming a one goal deficit from the first game in Spain by winning the return 2-0. A semi final with Nantes awaited and the Italians looked to have booked their final spot by securing a 2-0 win on home soil. They got a scare in France though but eventually progressed courtesy of a 3-2 defeat and 4-3 aggregate triumph. Prior to the knockout phase they had topped Group C ahead of Borussia Dortmund, taking 13 points out of 16 with an impressive goal difference of +11.
1985: First European Title Overshadowed by Disaster
The first time Juventus went all the way in the European Cup should have been a time of great celebration for the club. As in 1996, they faced the reigning European champions and a side that had already claimed the prize four times, but in 1985 it was England’s top team Liverpool who were the opponents. The match took place at the now-infamous Heysel Stadium in Belgium and Giovanni Trapattoni’s Juve beat Joe Fagan’s Reds 1-0 thanks to a goal scored from the spot by Michel Platini. But the game would be remembered for something much darker.
After various incidents of crowd trouble, largely believed to have been instigated by Liverpool fans, the atmosphere was extremely confrontational. Before kick-off, Liverpool fans charged at Juve supporters which caused a crush that led to the collapse of a perimeter wall. Unfortunately, 39 supporters lost their lives and hundreds more were injured.
After over an hour’s delay, the match took place (which probably wouldn’t have happened these days) and, as mentioned, Juve came out on top, while Liverpool and all other English clubs were banned from competing in Europe for an indefinite period (though the ban was lifted in the 1990/91 season for most clubs, with Liverpool allowed to compete a year later).
Irrelevant as it now seems, Juve had earlier beaten Finish side Ilves, Zurich-based Grasshoppers, and Sparta Prague. This saw them through to the semis where they bettered French club Bordeaux 3-2 on aggregate despite losing the second leg in France 2-0.
Juve’s Worst Upsets
As you can see from the table able, Juve have been eliminated from the European Cup/Champions League at the Group Stage or in the first or second round 25% of the time. This has inevitably been caused by some disappointing results along the way. For instance, in the 2013/14 Champions League, Juve were drawn in a group with Real Madrid, Galatasaray and Copenhagen and only managed a single win and a draw from their six group games (the win was at home against Copenhagen, the draw was away in Denmark). Suffice to say, that was the end of their tournament (though they parachuted into the Europa League and made it to the semis!).
In the 2000/01 campaign, Juve were put in a rather easy-looking group alongside Deportivo La Coruna, Panathinaikos and Hamburg. But once again they managed just a single victory (against the Greeks in Turin) and ended up finishing at the bottom of the pile.
One of the biggest upsets Juve have suffered in the European Cup came in the 1978/79 season. They had won the UEFA Cup in 1977 and made the semis of the European Cup in 1978, so when they were drawn against Scotland’s Rangers in the first round of the 1978/79 tournament, few people expected the Scots to make it through, especially after the Italians won the first leg 1-0 on home soil. Unfortunately for Juve, Rangers turned on the style in the second leg and ran out 2-0 victors to progress to the next round where they met PSV Eindhoven. Incidentally, they won that too and were close to getting the better of Koln in the quarters. It wasn’t to be though and it was Nottingham Forest who met (and beat) Koln in the semis and then won the final too (against Malmo).
More recently, Juve have also suffered their share of poor results, including in 2021/22 when they topped their group ahead of Chelsea with 15 points from 18. So far, so good, although it is worth noting that their only dropped points came thanks to a 4-0 loss at Stamford Bridge. Things would get worse too, as in the Round of 16 they were dumped out by unseeded Villarreal. The first game in Spain ended 1-1 but the reverse fixture was a nightmare for Juve as they lost 3-0 on home soil to crash out.