No-one had any doubts that they could 'play' it - the doubt was that they would still be in the competition at that stage; so 'play' is not interchangeable with 'reach'.
Longer form would be maybe 'get as far as'.
Meaning 2 at OALD which has some other synonyms too. Not all of these would work for this sentence; those in italics are definitely out:
arrive at, get to, get as far as, come to, make it
to, gain, end up at, land up at, set foot on
informal: make, hit
Also, there's no need for 'for this year'. Just 'this year'.
Something I can't put my finger on also wants me to substitute 'could' for 'would'.
There are also some 'football-specific' ways that commentators/pundits refer to things…
Semi-finals is almost always plural if you are referring generally to both, at a distance - there are two of them, of course, yet only one final.
If you were referring to one specific match, 'the semi-final between A & B' then it would be singular.
They also almost always refer to the 'year' as the 'season'.
So, one option, very colloquial & 'football-style' would be...
No-one would have thought that Juve would make the semi-finals this season.