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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Past Echoes In Play for Cup Finale

ROME -- Ajax Amsterdam will be hoping history repeats itself when it meets Juventus in the European Cup final in the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday. For obvious reasons, Juventus will be hoping it won't.


Twenty-three years after beating Juventus 1-0 in the European Cup final in Belgrade, the two clubs face each other again with Europe's premier club prize at stake.


As in 1973 when it won one of the most boring European Cup finals of all time with a fourth-minute Johnny Rep goal, Ajax comes to the match as holders and on the verge of breaking up.


The 1973 final was Johan Cruyff's last for Ajax. This time Michael Reiziger, who is suspended, Edgar Davids and veteran Sonny Silooy are all leaving.


Juventus, according to the kidology employed by its coach Marcelo Lippi, is "the underdog, playing against the best team in the world."


The fact the match is in Rome with more than three-quarters of the 80,000 crowd expected to be Juve fans will certainly go some way to redressing any misplaced sense of inferiority Juventus may be feeling.


Ajax won the European Cup in Vienna last May for the first time since 1973, and the fourth time in all, when a goal late in the game from 18-year-old substitute Patrick Kluivert gave it a 1-0 victory over AC Milan.


Victory on Wednesday would put it level with Milan on five wins, just one behind Real Madrid's all-time record of six.


Juventus, playing in its fourth final, will be looking to become European champions for the first time since its 1985 win over Liverpool, a hollow triumph forever blighted by the deaths of 39 fans following the infamous riot by English fans in Brussels' Heysel stadium before the start of the match.


Both teams are more or less settled, although Ajax coach Louis van Gaal faces some last-minute switching if experienced defender Frank de Boer fails a late fitness test on his recurring ankle injury Wednesday.


With full-back Reiziger, on his way to AC Milan, out of the final after two semifinal cautions, Van Gaal is expected to name Silooy at right back, with Winston Bogarde or Arnold Scholten partnering skipper Danny Blind at the heart of the defense.


Juventus appears to have no injury problems and Lippi expects to field his strongest side.