COMMENT: Juventus reaching this year's Champions League final is a triumph for real football people.
Juve will meet Barcelona on June 6 in Berlin thanks to a transfer policy free of the shackles and restraints that so many Premier League boards demand from their football staff.
When Beppe Marotta, Juve's general manager, and his sporting director Fabio Paratici, consider a potential signing, there's no bean-counter in their ear droning on about sell-on value. There's no over-30s policy. And there's no 'Moneyball' software throwing up statistics about why a player shouldn't be signed.
Andrea Pirlo walked through the doors at Juve four years ago, at the age of 32. Since then, Juve have won four Scudetti and are now one game away from lifting the Champions League crown. Marotta didn't bother about his age, nor his sell-on value. It was about what Pirlo could bring to Juve at that moment. Marotta is in the football business. And football is about winning games, not buying and selling for a profit.
Six of the starting XI at Real Madrid last night were over 30 years of age. Yet, despite software that would suggest otherwise, Juve's players ran almost 10km more per game than Real Madrid after the group phase.
Patrice Evra left Manchester United last summer under cloud. 'He was past it', many claimed. But Marotta and Paratici were convinced he could offer the locker room something. The Championship Manager software English clubs proudly boast they use can't give them any indication what value Evra's leadership brings to a squad. It won't tally how a word from the Frenchman at halftime last night calmed his teammates' nerves. But Marotta and Paratici certainly could.
This success isn't just about Juve placing its faith (on and off the pitch) in football experience. They've reached Berlin on the back of a transfer policy which could so easily have benefited many clubs in England.
Alvaro Morata, Juve's man of the moment, was offered around the Premier League by Real Madrid intermediaries late, last season. But while there was tentative interest, no-one, not Arsenal nor Tottenham nor Liverpool, were willing to pull the trigger and bid for the youngster.
Juve did, paying €20 million for the Spaniard. They say Juve's run to the final has been worth €100 million alone from Italian TV revenue and award money. Not a bad return.
Arturo Vidal joined from Bayer Leverkusen four years ago for less than €11 million. Carlos Tevez arrived from Manchester City for less than €15 million. Fernando Llorente and Paul Pogba were Bosman signings. All players available on the open market, yet finding their way to Juve for one reason or another - and for fees that would be barely chump change for many Premier League clubs.
And we haven't mentioned Juventus Stadium. While certain Premier League clubs use ground renovation as an excuse for on-pitch mediocrity, all those trophies Juve have been collecting were won while paying off their 105 million stadium. Are you watching Arsenal?
Even Massimiliano Allegri, Juve's potentially Treble winning coach, was ignored by English football.
After his sacking by AC Milan last season, Allegri, who had been taking English lessons for over a year, spent time in London. He even looked into properties as he considered continuing his career in the Premier League. But the offers never arrived.
Now, he's being celebrated at Juve as being superior to his predecessor Antonio Conte.
There's no great mystery about why Juve have succeeded where Premier League clubs have failed. Or why Marotta has been able to build a team one game away from being crowned European champions on a fraction of the budget half the Premier League enjoy.
It's about a great football club, being run by good football people. From Andrea Agnelli and Marotta, to Allegri and the leaders inside the Juve locker room. You don't get football nous from a computer game.