Monday, December 18, 2017

Ronaldo the star as Juve´s ´BBC´ flop – Champions League player ratings

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 3 Jun 2017

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Real Madrid defeated Juventus 4-1 in Cardiff on Saturday to become the first team to retain the Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo striking twice together with goals from Casemiro and Marco Asensio.

Here we rate the players involved in a memorable decider at Principality Stadium, as Zinedine Zidane’s LaLiga champions strengthened their grip on UEFA’s biggest prize. 

 

REAL MADRID:

Keylor Navas: 7

Made a good early save to deny Miralem Pjanic, could not be faulted for Mario Mandzukic’s spectacular equaliser and had little to do as Juve wilted in the second half.

Marcelo: 7.5

Provided a regular threat down the left, linking up well with Karim Benzema and weaved some magic near the touchline to tee up Marco Asensio for the fourth. 

Raphael Varane: 6.5

Allowed Gonzalo Higuain to get past him too easily for an early sight of goal, but steadied himself after that to snuff out the Juve threat.

Sergio Ramos: 6.5

Did little wrong as he walked the disciplinary tightrope following a 32nd-minute booking for barging over Dani Alves, but did not produce his customary goal on the big stage and won few friends for getting Juan Cuadrado sent off late on. 

Dani Carvajal: 8

Troubled Alex Sandro down Juve’s left throughout the match, supplying the assist for Ronaldo’s opening goal and having a hand in the Portuguese’s second, combining well with Luka Modric down the right flank. 

Luka Modric: 8

The Croatian maestro was typically influential, running the show for Madrid in the middle of the park and setting up Ronaldo for Madrid’s third. 

Casemiro: 7

Performed his defensive duties admirably and supplied Madrid’s second goal, albeit courtesy of some unwitting assistance from Sami Khedira’s heel.

Toni Kroos: 7

Like Casemiro, the Germany international was quietly efficient in the middle and had a hand in the opener, driving forward and feeding possession to Benzema, before Ronaldo and Carvajal did the rest. 

Cristiano Ronaldo: 9

Arguably now one of football’s finest ever big-game players, the Portuguese delivered when it mattered most, striking twice to follow his impressive haul in the previous two rounds. The driving force behind what will become known as another golden era for European football’s aristocrats. 

Karim Benzema: 7.5

A relatively unsung hero for a centre-forward, Benzema was lively early on, partnering well with Marcelo in particular, and getting through plenty of work as others grabbed the spotlight. 

Isco: 7

Broke the hearts of locals by starting ahead of Cardiff-born Gareth Bale, who was lacking full fitness, but rose to the occasion effectively, while lacking some of the sparkle that has finally seen him become accepted as a Madrid regular in the second half of this season. 

Substitutes:

Alvaro Morata: 6.5

Spent the final few moments on the field after replacing Kroos in the 89th minute, without becoming closely involved.

Marco Asensio: 7.5

Being in the right place at the right time means fringe player Asensio is now a scorer in a Champions League final, the 21-year-old former Mallorca player getting on the end of Marcelo’s cutback to make it 4-1.

Gareth Bale: 6.5

Bale will enjoy lifting the trophy and bagging another medal, but the Wales international will find it hard to shrug off a lingering sense of disappointment at failing to start  in his home city, finding few opportunities to become involved after replacing Bale in the 77 minute.

 

JUVENTUS

Gianluigi Buffon: 6

Got finger tips to Ronaldo’s opening goal, but was left with no chance for Casemiro’s effort after a nasty deflection off Khedira and there was little he could do for the Portuguese’s second, consigning the popular veteran to yet more Champions League disappointment.

Giorgio Chiellini: 5

Could have done better with his positioning and pace for Ronaldo’s opening goal and was among those in black and white left on their heels as the Portuguese ghosted in to tuck home his second and Madrid’s third. 

Leonardo Bonucci: 5

Played a trademark long ball to find Sandro for Mandzukic’s brilliant equaliser, but, together with Chiellini, was somewhat culpable for Ronaldo’s first and second, as Juve’s vaunted rearguard were undone by Madrid’s energy and sharp interplay. 

Andrea Barzagli: 5.5

Executed an excellent tackle to dispossess Isco inside the area early in the second half, b
000029F4
ut will be tarnished with the same collective brush of failure as the other members of the back three after so much was expected of Turin’s answer to the ‘BBC’. 

Sami Khedira: 5.5

Missed a chance to remind his former employers what they are missing out on and, while he can scarcely be blamed, will be remembered for steering Casemiro’s hopeful long-range effort out of the reach of Buffon. 

Miralem Pjanic: 6

Solid but unspectacular in the centre of the field, he suffered in comparison to world-class opposite number Modric. 

Alex Sandro: 5

Played a good part in the equaliser, hooking the ball back for Higuain to control prior to the Argentine setting up Mandzukic. But he should have tracked Carvajal and Modric better for Madrid’s first and third goals respectively 

Dani Alves: 6

After playing a key role in Juve’s march to the final, the veteran Brazilian failed to deliver on the big stage, having made typically noisy remarks about former club Barcelona in the build-up.

Paulo Dybala: 6.5

The Argentine was lively in the first half, but, like Juve, faded in the second without making a significant impact.

Mario Mandzukic: 7.5

Mandzukic can consider himself unfortunate to end up on the losing side after scoring one of the great Champions League goals, although he admittedly did little else.

Gonzalo Higuain: 5

Acquired from Napoli at considerable expense last year, Higuain helped Mandzukic to level and threatened in the first few minutes, but disappeared in a second half that will haunt Juve throughout the long off-season.

Substitutes

Juan Cuadrado: 5

Had little opportunity to make an impact before seeing red for picking up two yellow cards in quick succession, thanks in no small part to the theatrics of Ramos. 

Claudio Marchisio: 5.5

The experienced midfielder was unable to turn the tide back in Juve’s favour after replacing Pjanic with 20 minutes to go.

Mario Lemina: 5.5

The match was lost by the time Lemina replaced Dybala with 12 minutes to go. 

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