It is a story which begins with a strike from one of Italian football’s original hard men. Romeo Benetti (younger readers - imagine Rino Gattuso but without the gentler qualities) opened hostilities between Tottenham Hotspur and Serie A with a thunderous hit for Milan at White Hart Lane in April 1972.
It started a series of punches and counter-punches which will continue when Juventus enter the ring this week. And there are lessons there from history for both sides, if they care to study them.
That first encounter in a UEFA Cup semi-final would be turned on its head by a Spurs youngster on his way to becoming a club legend. Steve Perryman scored twice with two screamers to give the London side a precious first leg advantage.
Not even the great Gianni Rivera - who converted a penalty in the return match - could help the Rossoneri to progress after Alan Mullery opened the scoring at San Siro. “We have to recognise that we were beaten by a great side,” reckoned that inimitable Coach, Nereo Rocco.
If round one had gone to Tottenham, it would be a long wait for round two - some 36 years - and without the glamour of playing quite such a giant of the Italian game. The UEFA Cup group stages would see Serie A gain some measure of revenge with Toto Di Natale - who else? - and Simone Pepe the scorers in a 2-0 triumph for Udinese.
That might sound like an embarrassing result on paper for the English side, but the boys from the Friuli could boast Samir Handanovic, Fabio Quagliarella and Alexis Sanchez in their ranks. Suddenly, it doesn’t read like quite such a shock outcome.
But the fireworks really erupted in this story, it would be fair to say, when Inter came on the scene. The two sides produced a pair of ding-dong battles in the group phase of the Champions League in 2010-11 with Gareth Bale doing his best to single-handedly produce an amazing comeback from 4-0 down at San Siro.
His hat-trick in defeat was impressive, but he got revenge in the home fixture as another masterclass delivered a 3-1 win. Spurs had shown they could go toe-to-toe with the reigning European champions and produce the goods. For good measure, they would go on to knock Milan out of the competition thanks to a single Peter Crouch strike over two legs.
Two years later, Inter and Spurs would meet again, this time in the Europa League, but not before two forgettable 0-0 draws between Tottenham and Lazio. With the Nerazzurri, however, the goalscoring magic was rekindled, as the Londoners crushed the Milanese giants 3-0 at home to set up what looked like a formality in the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
However, the place still clearly had a magical effect, as the Italians came within a whisker of a famous recovery. Antonio Cassano, Rodrigo Palacio and a William Gallas own goal sent the tie to extra time. It took an Emmanuel Adebayor goal to decide the outcome and make a late Ricky Alvarez strike futile.
That heralded the start of the Fiorentina era and the final episodes of this gripping melodrama. The Viola would triumph in the Europa League in 2015 with Mohamed Salah and Mario Gomez securing a 2-0 win at the Stadio Artemio Franchi after a 1-1 draw in England. A year later, however, Tottenham would turn the tables in style with a 3-0 success at home after a 1-1 result in Florence. It was enough to take their record against Italian sides into credit, if only just.
The truth is that these past clashes show a glorious equilibrium when those famous white shirts come to Italy or host Serie A outfits. Whenever they have met in knockout matches, it has rarely been anything other than intense - even when a first leg result looked like it might have made things straightforward.
If the best sporting encounters are those in which the outcome is uncertain until the end, the omens are that Juventus and Tottenham should dish up a treat.
The Bianconeri should be warned that their opponents are rarely down and out, even when the odds seemed stacked against them. While Spurs, for their part, will have to be on their guard against the European nous that Italian teams can offer, which can often be their undoing.
This should be exquisite fare over 180 minutes - or possibly more - of Champions League intrigue. The White Hart Lane wannabes against that veteran Vecchia Signora. Somewhere - I like to imagine underneath his trademark moustache - Romeo Benetti will be licking his lips at the prospect.
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