Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Juventus 0-3 Real Madrid: Ronaldo’s brilliance blows the Old Lady away

Dan Steeden in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 3 Apr 2018

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Juventus welcomed Real Madrid to Turin for the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final clash between the two European heavyweights. The Old Lady beat Tottenham to reach this stage of the prestigious competition, while Los Blancos eased past much-fancied PSG. This promised to be an intriguing and high-quality repeat of the 2017 final that would see a tournament favourite leave the competition.

Ronaldo opens the scoring early on 

The atmosphere inside the Juventus Stadium was electric right from the off, and it was met by an equally electric start from Champions League masters Real Madrid. A neat passage of play between Marcelo and Isco down the left wing saw the Spaniard wriggle free and drill a low cross into the box. The ball was unsurprisingly met by Cristiano Ronaldo, who slammed home an emphatic finish, handing Los Blancos an early lead and a crucial away goal. It was the most disastrous start possible for Juventus but the Old Lady responded well to the setback, pressing for an immediate equaliser.

It was difficult to tell whether Juventus began earn more of the ball or whether Real were surrendering possession as a result of going ahead early, but the home side looked dangerous as their attacks gathered momentum. Zinedine Zidane’s side, by contrast, looked at their attacking best on the break, utilising the pace of Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to harry the Juventus defenders. Having gone a goal down so early it looked as if the Italian side wanted to avoid making any further mistakes and the game was a cagey affair in the opening 20 minutes.

Juventus dominate the rest of the first half

Juventus did eventually work their way into the game however and Gonzalo Higuain really should have brought the home side level with a close-range effort. A whipped free kick from Paulo Dybala was met by the striker five yards from goal, but Keylor Navas somehow managed to pull of a stunning reflex save to preserve his side’s narrow lead. The Old Lady continued to pile the pressure on the visitors goal after that chance and both Dybala and Sami Khedira looked dangerous, driving forward from midfield. The persisted in creating penetration through the Madrid back line, but the Spanish side looked a constant threat on the counter.

Dybala was the next Juve player in line to squander a good chance just past the half hour mark. This time it came after a good run by Mattia De Sciglio, who drove a cross low across the goal that missed the outstretched leg of Dybala by a matter of inches. Up the other end Toni Kroos almost doubled Real’s lead against the run of play with a venomous shot, but the effort cannoned back off the bar having beaten the diving Buffon. The third chance of the ping-pong-esque exchange before half time went Juventus’ way, with Giorgio Chiellini rising for a towering header, only to mistime it completely and send it flying wide. That was to be the final chance of a half dominated by the home side, but it was Real Madrid who went into the break ahead.

Both sides pursue the crucial next goal

The second half continued in much the same manner as the first had ended, with Juventus dominating the possession and largely pinning Real Madrid back into their own half. Massimiliano Allegri’s men almost found themselves down by two however after a quick break from the visitors, but Ronaldo flashed a snap shot uncharacteristically wide of the far post. The golden opportunity was a stark warning sign for the Old Lady of their opponents’ ability to break with lightning speed, but Juventus did not let up and continued to put a lot of pressure on Los Blancos.

Juve came within inches of an equaliser once again after Dybala’s free kick was deflected away from Navas’ dive, but the ball spiralled just past the post and Real hung on. The game became stretched around the hour mark as both sides seemed to acknowledge that the next goal could decide this game and it looked only a matter of time before somebody found the back of the net. Juventus looked the likeliest as they continued to utterly dominate the possession.

The Juventus Stadium applauds Ronaldo’s mastery 

Typically it was Ronaldo who made his mark once again, this time scoring one of the all time great Champions League goals. A mistake from Chiellini took the ball away from Buffon, allowing Ronaldo to find Dani Carvajal down the right wing. The fullback delivered a cross back towards the Portuguese legend, who met the ball with an acrobatically bicycle-kick, sending it flying past Buffon and into the back of the net. The goal not only doubled Real Madrid’s lead away from home but also drew a standing ovation from both sets of fans, who recognised the supreme talent of this otherworldly player.

To add insult to injury the home side were soon reduced to ten men after Dybala was sent off due to a second yellow. His first had come after a dive in the first half, but his second was show following a clumsy challenge and was the last thing that Allegri’s side needed in the circumstances.

With the advantage both in terms of goals and numbers it didn’t take long for Real Madrid to increase their lead. This time Ronaldo turned provider, combining brilliantly with Marcelo to slip the fullback through on goal and allow him to lift the ball over Buffon and tap it home into the empty net. It was an expertly worked goal and one that looked to have put the tie out of reach of Juventus. Zidane’s men could have had several more before the final whistle, and Ronaldo easily could have completed his hat-trick, but they eventually left Turin with a commanding lead to take back to the Spanish capital.

Final Thoughts 

Juventus will probably count themselves fairly unlucky to have lost this game so emphatically given how much of it they dominated. The early goal, combined with Dybala’s red car, meant that this game slipped away from the Italian side and they will now face an incredible task at the Bernabeu next week if they want to progress.

Despite not seeing as much of the ball ad they are used to, Real Madrid managed to run away with this goal thanks to the sheer mastery of Cristiano Ronaldo, The Portuguese superstar put his stamp on this game with a brilliant brace, as well as an assist, and at times like this it is worth noting just how lucky we are lucky to be able to watch a player of his remarkable ability.

Match Report 

Juventus: Buffon, De Sciglio, Barzagli, Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Costa (Matuidi, 69’), Bentancur, Khedira (Cuadrado, 75’), Asamoah (Mandzukic, 69’), Dybala, Higuain 

Real Madrid: Navas, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Casemiro, Modric (Kovacic, 82’), Kroos, Isco (Asensio, 75’), Ronaldo, Benzema (Vazquez, 59’) 

Goals: Ronaldo (0-1, 3’), Ronaldo (0-2, 64’), Marcelo (0-3, 72’) 

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir 

Yellow Cards: Bentancur (26’), Dybala (45’, 66’), Ramos (55’), Kovacic (88’) 

Red Cards: Dybala (66’)

Player Ratings 

Juventus: Buffon 6, De Sciglio 6, Barzagli 6, Chiellini 5.5, Alex Sandro 6, Costa 6 (Matuidi n/a), Bentancur 7, Khedira 7 (Cuadrado n/a), Asamoah 6 (Mandzukic n/a), Dybala 4.5, Higuain 6.5 

Real Madrid: Navas 7.5, Carvajal 7, Varane 7, Ramos 7, Marcelo 8, Casemiro 7, Modric 7 (Kovacic, n/a), Kroos 7, Isco 8 (Asensio n/a), Ronaldo 9.5, Benzema 6 (Vazquez n/a)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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