The football landscape of May 20, 1998 was very different to the one we find ourselves in today.
Ronaldo was the world’s most expensive player at ‘just’ £19million, Manchester City had just been relegated to the third tier of English football and Europe’s next big thing, Kylian Mbappe, was still six months away from arriving in the world.
But some things never change. Juventus and Real Madrid remain at the top of the game, competing for European football’s biggest
prize nearly two decades on.
The two heavyweights get it on again in Cardiff on Saturday night, evoking memories of their last final 19 years ago. It was a night where underdogs Real Madrid emerged victorious thanks to a goal by Predrag Mijatovic.
A look at the team sheet from that night in Amsterdam reads as a who’s who of European football from a generation. Some were on their way up, some were at the peak of their powers and some were on the decline. But they combined to produce a classic, even if it was decided by a single goal.
Juventus, managed by Marcello Lippi and in their third-straight final appearance, went into the game as overwhelming favourites against a Real side made up of a combination of players yet to reach their peak and others coming to the end of their careers.
Juventus: Peruzzi (c), Torricelli, Mark Iuliano, Montero, Di Livio (Tacchinardi 46), Deschamps (Conte 77), Davids, Pessotto (Fonseca 70), Zidane, Inzaghi, Del Piero
Subs not used: Rampulla, Teixeira, Birindelli, Amoruso
Booked: Montero, Davids
Manager: Marcello Lippi
Real Madrid: Illgner, Panucci, Sanchis (c), Hierro, Roberto Carlos, Redondo, Karembeu, Seedorf, Raul (Amavisca 90), Morientes (Jaime 81), Mijatovic (Suker 89)
Goal: Mijatovic 66
Booked: Hierro, Carlos, Karembeu, Seedorf
Manager: Jupp Heynckes
The Old Lady’s Italian core was led by the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Filippo Inzaghi and extrovert goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi. Just like the Juventus of today, there was an ever-reliable, unheralded supporting cast, on this occasion including the painfully underrated Angelo Di Livio, Paolo Montero and Mark Iuliano.
Edgar Davids prowled the midfield, minus the goggles, while current Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was introduced from the bench in place of Didier Deschamps, who would go on to lift the World Cup as France captain just a few weeks later.
Then there was Zinedine Zidane, who truly emerged as a world star in 1998. His talent was known long before of course, but a Serie A title, a Champions League final appearance and then inspiring France’s home World Cup triumph catapulted him to a new level and a Ballon d’Or at the end of the year.
He, like the two teams, remains at the top of the European game as he prepares to lead Real Madrid into Saturday’s final as manager, looking to topple his former side.
Zidane would move to Madrid as a Galactico in 2001, but even before Florentino Perez truly opened the chequebook in a bid to bring star power to Real, Los Blancos were able to boast some of European football’s most iconic names.
They were led by Raul in 1998 – a homegrown trequartista who dominated the European goalscoring charts for many years and earned icon status in his home city.
But this was not a cavalier Madrid side. They were built from a solid base, with a central defensive pairing of Fernando Hierro and Manuel Sanchis who played more than 1,000 games for the club combined. In front of them was Fernando Redondo, a defensive shield who was just as capable of putting in a crunching challenge as he was dictating play.
Christian Karembeu and Clarence Seedorf looked to create from midfield as Brazilian full-back Roberto Carlos bombed forward, with industrious striker Fernando Morientes partnering Mijatovic in attack. Some big names, but by no means a super-team.
While defensive powerhouse Juve had won Serie A by five points, Real finished a lowly fourth in the Spanish top flight and needed victory in the Dutch capital to rescue their season.
The unshakeable Italians headed in as heavy favourites, with Mijatovic providing a rousing team-talk pre-match in a bid to get his underdogs firing: He said: ‘Boys, we are here and we don’t know if any of us will get to a final again, so let’s go out there and play a great match – we have to do everything possible to win.’
When kick-off came in front of 48,000 fans at Amsterdam Arena it was the Italians who were quickest out the blocks as Deschamps tested German goalkeeper Bodo Illgner from range. Raul should have put Real ahead but could only steer a low ball from Mijatovic wide of post with the goal gaping in a tight first half.
But they did get their reward as, in the second period, a driven ball from Carlos across the box was pounced on by Yoguslavia international Mihjatovic who lifted it into the roof of the net past Peruzzi.
Davids had a glorious chance to equalise but could only shoot straight at Illgner, before Juve’s chance slipped away and Real lifted the famous trophy for the first time since 1966.
Now, as they prepare to meet in Wales, it is the Italians who are looking to break a drought dating back to 1996, with Real having won the Champions League a further four times since.
Will Zidane ensure another disappointment for the club he led on the field in 1998, or will the Old Lady have their day again?
Real head into the game as slight favourites but, if 1998 has taught us anything, we know that tag will mean very little.