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The portents were not good for Real Madrid CF going into the 1998 UEFA Champions League final in Amsterdam. With the Spanish club having lost the only previous European Cup showpiece staged in the city – to SL Benfica 36 years earlier – and having just finished, by their standards, a lowly fourth in the Liga, a Juventus victory was highly fancied.
That the Bianconeri had retained the Scudetto days before merely added to the expectation. "We were all a bit worried, I have to say, because in the league that year we hadn't really played well," former Madrid attacker Predrag Mijatović told UEFA.com. "So we travelled to Amsterdam and everybody was thinking Juventus would win 3-0 or 3-1 – all the predictions by pundits and former players said Juventus were clear favourites and would certainly win.
"But we heard all those comments and we said to ourselves: 'Boys, we are here and we don't know if any of us will get to a final again, so let's go out there and play a great match – we have to do everything possible to win.' And we did it."
In the event, the Merengues prevailed thanks to Mijatović's solitary 66th-minute goal at the Amsterdam ArenA – venue for May's UEFA Europa League final – ending Madrid's 32-year wait for their seventh European title.
"That night was beautiful," recalled the ex-Yugoslav international, 43. "For the first three or four hours it wasn't really believable. And then you realise and see that it is true and that we'd become European champions and that I'd scored a very important goal, not only for me, but for the history of Real Madrid."
Watch the video above to hear more from Mijatović about that glorious night in the Dutch capital.
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