On 20 May 1998, Real Madrid achieved one of their most memorable feats in their illustrious history: winning their seventh European Cup after a 32-year drought. The Spanish giants faced Juventus, the defending champions and finalists for the third consecutive year, in a thrilling match at the Amsterdam Arena.
LISTEN: Managing Madrid’s Kiyan Sobhani and Kristofer McCormack do a historical podcast on Real Madrid’s 1 - 0 win over Juventus in the Champions League Final in 1998
The road to the final
Real Madrid had qualified for the Champions League as the runners-up of La Liga in the previous season. They were drawn in Group D with Rosenborg, Olympiacos and Porto. They topped the group with 13 points, winning four games and drawing one. They scored 18 goals and conceded only three.
In the quarter-finals, they faced Bayer Leverkusen, who had finished second in Group E behind Monaco. The first leg in Germany ended in a 1-1 draw. The second leg at the Santiago Bernabéu was a comfortable 3-0 win for Real Madrid, with goals from Christian Karembeu, Fernando Morientes and Fernando Hierro.
In the semi-finals, they met Borussia Dortmund, who had won Group C ahead of Parma, Sparta Prague and Galatasaray. The first leg at home was a tight 2-0 victory for Real Madrid, with goals from Fernando Morientes and Christian Karembeu. The second leg in Germany was a goalless draw, which secured Real Madrid’s place in the final.
Juventus had qualified for the Champions League as the winners of Serie A in the previous season. They were drawn in Group B with Manchester United, Feyenoord and Košice. They finished second in the group with 12 points, winning four games and losing two. They scored 14 goals and conceded nine.
In the quarter-finals, they faced Dynamo Kyiv, who had topped Group A ahead of Newcastle United, PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona. The first leg in Italy ended in a 1-1 draw. The second leg in Ukraine was a stunning 4-1 win for Juventus.
In the semi-finals, they met Monaco, who had surprised everyone by winning Group E ahead of Bayer Leverkusen, Sporting CP and Lierse. The first leg at home was a convincing 4-1 win for Juventus. The second leg in France was a 3-2 defeat for Juventus.
The final was played on a Wednesday night at the Amsterdam Arena, which had opened two years earlier as the home stadium of Ajax. The referee was Hellmut Krug from Germany, who had also officiated the 1994 UEFA Cup final between Inter Milan and Salzburg.
The line-ups were:
Juventus: Angelo Peruzzi; Moreno Torricelli, Mark Iuliano, Paolo Montero, Gianluca Pessotto; Angelo Di Livio (Alessio Tacchinardi 46’), Didier Deschamps (Antonio Conte 77’), Edgar Davids, Zinedine Zidane; Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Del Piero (Daniel Fonseca 70’).
Real Madrid: Bodo Illgner; Christian Panucci, Manolo Sanchís, Fernando Hierro, Roberto Carlos; Fernando Redondo; Christian Karembeu (Sávio 56’), Clarence Seedorf; Raúl; Fernando Morientes (Davor Šuker 90+4’), Predrag Mijatović (Jaime Sánchez 90+2’).
4 active coaches from that final on May 20th, 1998: Raul, Zidane, Deschamps, Inzaghi, Conte pic.twitter.com/EX7dEPZa5d— Managing Madrid (@managingmadrid) May 20, 2023
The match started with both teams trying to impose their style of play. The first half was evenly balanced, with both teams getting into dangerous areas in a back-and-forth contest.. The best opportunity came when Mijatovic — the best player on the pitch and a constant thorn for Juve — set up Raul for a glorious chance, but he Spaniard missed.
The second half saw even more intensity and drama, and Real Madrid finally broke the deadlock in the 66th minute: Roberto Carlos crossed from the left wing to Predrag Mijatović, who controlled the ball and slotted it past Angelo Peruzzi with his left foot. It was a historic goal for Real Madrid: their first in a European Cup final since 1966.
When the final whistle blew, Real Madrid had won their seventh European Cup after a 32-year wait. Their players celebrated wildly on the pitch: they hugged each other, lifted their coach Jupp Heynckes on their shoulders and kissed their captain Manolo Sanchís’ head. Madridistas who made the trip to Amsterdam were in jubilation.
Juventus’ players looked dejected: they walked slowly towards their fans to applaud them and thank them for their support. They had lost their second consecutive final: they had been beaten by Borussia Dortmund in 1997 one year prior. Their coach Marcello Lippi consoled his players: he hugged them one by one and praised them for their effort.
UEFA president Lennart Johansson handed over the trophy to Manolo Sanchís, who lifted it high above his head to loud applause
Real Madrid had achieved their dream: they had returned to the top of Europe after a long absence. They had written another glorious chapter in their history: they had become La Séptima (The Seventh).