Holders Real Madrid take on Juventus in the Champions League final on Saturday in the culmination of an intriguing bid to make history.
Zinedine Zidane’s men have already clinched LaLiga glory for the first time since 2011-12 and will now look to become the first team to successfully retain the trophy in the Champions League era.
Madrid have played 12 games in European club football’s elite competition to get this far and Juventus now await, with Massimiliano Allegri’s side looking to clinch a historic treble.
Here, we look at the capital side’s road to Cardiff.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) June 1, 2017
Madrid made a somewhat underwhelming start to their European campaign as they appeared to be on their way to a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Sporting CP, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to level the scoring in the 89th minute, before Alvaro Morata delivered the win well into stoppage time.They then had to settle for a 2-2 draw in a hugely entertaining trip to Borussia Dortmund, Andre Schurrle frustrating them with an equaliser three minutes from time.
The Santiago Bernabeu side hammered Legia Warsaw 5-1 on matchday three to take an important step toward the knockout stages, but the Polish side put in a strong performance in the reverse fixture as they recorded a 3-3 draw. Zidane’s side bounced back with another 2-1 win over Sporting CP, but a 2-2 draw with Dortmund in their final group stage game meant they finished second in Group F behind the Bundesliga outfit.
ROUND OF 16 – NAPOLI (6-2 AGG)
Having survived the group stages without any noteworthy problems, a more complicated task awaited in the round of 16, with Napoli having won Group B ahead of Benfica, Besiktas and Dynamo Kiev. And things were not looking good for Madrid when Lorenzo Insigne handed the Serie A side the lead in the first leg at the Bernabeu. Nevertheless, Karim Benzema quickly restored parity, with Toni Kroos and Casemiro ensuring a 3-1 win after the break.
Napoli once more went a goal up in the return when Dries Mertens found the net and Madrid seemed in serious danger of crashing out, the Belgium international hitting the upright shortly after. But Sergio Ramos then stepped up to the plate, equalising early in the second half, before seeing another header find the net via Mertens. Alvaro Morata put the icing on the cake with Madrid’s third in the dying seconds of the tie.
QUARTER-FINALS – BAYERN MUNICH (6-3 AGG)
The quarter-final tie against Bayern Munich promised to be a tight affair and it sure lived up to the high expectations. Bayern were well in control in the first half of the first leg and went a goal up when Arturo Vidal beat Keylor Navas in the 25th minute. The Chile international then missed a spot-kick, though, and Ronaldo made sure that miss would not go unpunished. He made it 1-1 early in the second half after some good work from Dani Carvajal and then made it 2-1 in the 77th minute after Javi Martinez had already been sent off.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men refused to throw in the towel, however, and an enthralling second leg ensued. Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring from the spot to make it 2-2 on aggregate, before Ronaldo scored with 15 minutes left on the clock. But an own goal from Sergio Ramos just a minute later meant it was 3-3 on aggregate to send the game into extra time. Vidal was controversially dismissed in the closing stages of the game, whereas Casemiro escaped a second booking on more than one occasion and Madrid would make the most of their numerical advantage. The inevitable Ronaldo added two more goals to his personal tally, with Marco Asensio having the final word to end Bayern’s Champions League hopes.
SEMI-FINALS – ATLETICO MADRID (4-2 AGG)
A familiar foe awaited in the semi-finals as Madrid were paired with city rivals Atletico, their opponents in the final both in 2014 and 2016. Diego Simeone’s men caused them plenty of trouble on those two occasions and things were no different this time around.
Yet it all started smoothly for the Bernabeu side as Ronaldo put in a sublime performance to lead his side the way in the first leg. The 32-year-old opened the scoring after just 10 minutes, added a second with 17 minutes left on the clock, before completing his hat-trick in the closing stages of the encounter. Atletico went all out attack in the return in an attempt to turn things around and they appeared to be on their way to a miraculous comeback when Saul Niguez and Antoine Griezmann each found the net within the first 16 minutes. But there would not be a third Atletico goal and Isco eventually put the tie to bed.
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