Juventus are seven points clear at the top of Serie A after just 13 matches. They’ve won the last five Italian titles in a row, and they already look good for a record sixth. Still, despite this early success, winning in Serie A simply isn’t good enough for the Bianconeri. They’ve got to lay a marker down in Europe, and that starts with beating Sevilla and topping their group.
Juventus are in a strange limbo. They’re clearly the class of Italy, and no one else in the country can even come close to touching them in that regard. They’ve made huge advancements in recent years, with soaring revenues and a growing global footprint, and they’ve further lorded that gap in achievement over their rivals by taking their very best players from right under their noses. All that’s lacking? The trophy with the big ears.
Juve haven’t won the Champions League since 1996. That’s unprecedented for a club of their size and reach. Even AC Milan, and Inter Milan, both teams in the middle of a tenuous rebuilding period for years now, have lifted the cup within the last decade. The Turin giants are untouchable in Italy, but in Europe they simply haven’t been able to get the job done.
It goes without saying that winning Champions League is an incredibly difficult proposition. Success isn’t guaranteed by any means, as Pep Guardiola and his former Bayern Munich side can attest. Juve have come within touching distance in recent years, losing in the final to Barcelona in 2014-15, and narrowly being knocked out in the round of 16 by the aforementioned Señor Guardiola’s Bayern last year. They put up a valiant fight. But that’s not good enough at this point. Juventus need to win in Champions League, and soon.
Not winning Champions League wouldn’t necessary be a failure for the Bianconeri, but not finishing on top of their group would be. A second-place finish wouldn’t just condemn them to the possible fate of facing the likes of Barcelona or Atletico Madrid, it’d also be a huge blow to the idea that Juventus have returned to the level of European elite. Sevilla and Olympique Lyon are no pushovers, and Sevilla’s been one of the revelations of Europe thus far, but that’s no excuse. Juventus are a better team, and they have to win this one.
It’s not going to be easy. They travel to Sevilla with a raft of injuries, just two out-and-out healthy strikers (one of whom is a 16-year-old), and on the back of some ragged performances of late. They’re getting results, but they simply haven’t looked great this year. However, it all comes down to this one. Sevilla are two points clear at the top of the group, and anything but a win would likely cement the top spot for the Spaniards and condemn Juve to the unwanted lottery of second place.
It’s do or die for the Bianconeri. And it all starts in Seville.
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