Ajax & Juventus – The Rise of the Old Powers

    Juventus Ajax

    The internet loves the 1990’s, and a lot of European football during that decade was about Ajax and Juventus. The last time Ajax won three consecutive league titles, they were the best team in Europe, taken off that throne by Juventus, how haven’t won two consecutive championships, recognized ones, in over a decade.

    But things are changing, especially for Juventus, who have much more than local domination on their mind. Few doubted their chances of securing the league title in 2013, and they’ve done it quite convincingly, with an 11 point lead over their closest chasers, Napoli, with three matches left to play. Juve count it as their 31st, the rest of Italy counts it as their 29th. It doesn’t matter. The bigger picture is the important thing here.

    Ajax were torn apart by the Bosman ruling in 1996, and never gained that kind of dominance again. After thee consecutive league titles with Louis van Gaal, winning the Champions League in 1995 and reaching the final again in 1996, everything changed. Most of the talent left, and Ajax became a feeder club for the rest of Europe while finding it hard to cope with the changes at home, winning only three league titles from 1996 till 2010.

    Then came Frank de Boer, while the rise of Siem de Jong and Christian Eriksen happened. It hasn’t been easy, as the Dutch league titles tend to be quite dramatic, but Ajax have now won three consecutive league titles, something that hasn’t happened since the mid 90’s.

    Juventus want to conquer the Champions League once again. They’ve reached the final three times since winning the trophy in 1986: In 1997, 1998 and 2003. But then they were relegated, and never found consistent success in the league, not to mention struggling with financial problems and terrible decision making when it came to the signing. But along with the new stadium, that has brought nothing but good fortunes so far, Juventus have cleaned house, and have taken Bayern Munich as their model. Hopefully, with some sort of financial edge over other Serie A teams, they can become more than a team satisfied with reaching the UCL quarterfinals.

    For Ajax, except for that team under Ronald Koeman in 2002-2003 that was tragically knocked out of the Champions League by AC Milan, it’s been a more humbling experience  They haven’t made it out of the group stage since the 2005-2006 season, often suffering from a rought patch of lack, finding themselves with Real Madrid in the same group, although they did manage a third place finish in the group of death this season. For Ajax, anything more than a group stage, considering their financial abilities and potential for growth, should be regarded a success. For Juventus, the ceiling and ambitions are much greater,