Juventus were easily overwhelming favorites for the crown. It was a back to back Champions League final for the Old Ladies. After edging Ajax Amsterdam in the Previous final, the Marcelo Lippi led side had all the ingredients to retain their trophy and become the first team to win Europe’s most coveted prize back to back but lurking around the corner was Borussia Dortmund from Germany who had surprised everyone by reaching their very first final in the Europe’s biggest competition. The Ottmar Hitzfield led side had beating English giants Manchester United home and away (2-0 aggregate) in the semis to book a final showdown in Munich.
Juventus and Dortmund previously met in the 1993 UEFA Cup Final. Juventus triumphed with 6–1 over two legs. Both clubs had also
met in the semi-finals of the 1994–95 UEFA Cup with Juventus progressing to the final and in the group stage of the 1995–96 UEFA Champions League. Both sides winning away from home, however Juventus topped the group and went on to win the trophy.
The 1997 final was a match of two teams who knew each other but Juventus being the defending Champion were the bookmakers favorite to lift the trophy.
The match got underway at the Munich Olympic stadium with Hungarian referee Sandor Puhl at the centre of proceedings.
Juventus team list boasted huge players that could tremble anything in the world.
The likes of Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps, Alen Boksic, Christian Vieri etc against Mattias Sammer, Paul Lambert, Paulo Sousa, Karl – Heinz Riedle amongst others for Borussia Dortmund.
Names can play football but it takes a team to emerge victorious.
Marcelo Lippi went for 4-3-1-2 with a strong position-oriented defensive game demonstrating excellent proficiency in controlling the centre and trapping the opposition by the touchline. Borussia Dortmund lined up in a 3-4-1-2 which by comparison was lacking in compactness.
If the Italian team swaggered early on, Dortmund had other plans. Barely 29th minute gone, Juventus received the first bullet when Karl-Heinz Riedle put Dortmund ahead converting Paul Lambert’s cross from inside the six yard box. Juventus ain’t settled when Riedle doubled the Black and Yellow’s lead with a header from a corner kick from the right in the 34th minute.
Marcelo Lippi and his boys were stunned going two nil down after half time. Magic needs to be conjured. The second half began, Lippi looks to his bench, there were definitely talents that could turn the game around, coming on as a substitute was Alexandro Del Piero who pulled one back in the 65th minute scoring via a back-heel from a cross by Alen Boksic.
The hope for a comeback has been raised. The Black and White’s celebration won’t last long when 20-year-old Lars Ricken wrote his name in the history books 16 seconds after coming on.
Lars Ricken latched on to a through-pass by Andreas Moller, chipped Angelo Peruzzi in the Juve goal from over 20 yards with his first touch of the ball, to make it 3–1 for Dortmund. Ricken’s goal was the fastest ever by a substitute in the Champions League.
Dortmund were in dreamland in Munich. Juventus can’t believe they are 2 goals down.
Referee Sandor Puhl blew his whistle in front of 59,000 fans and it was a historical day for the Borussia Dortmund.
The UEFA Champions League has always been full of drama, Ottmar Hitzfield boys put on a spirited performance and deservedly won their only Champions League trophy on May 28, 1997.