The last time Juventus enjoyed European success was back in 1996, almost twenty years ago. When they were drawn against Real Madrid in the semi-final of this season’s Champions League, many thought that it would be an easy one for the Spanish giants yet Los Merengues suffered a 2-1 defeat in Turin despite Cristiano Ronaldo scoring his 54th goal of the season.
Juve took the lead when Alvaro Morata scored the opening goal against his old club. Real were able to bounce back through Cristiano Ronaldo’s header but a spot-kick from Carlos Tevez gave the Italians a valuable advantage ahead of the next tie.
Carlo Ancelotti, Juventus’ former manager, failed at adapting his club’s game to his opponent’s one. The Spanish club had a bad game which resulted in a loss. Gareth Bale lacked confidence as he faded away contributing to little besides a few wasted opportunities. He was replaced after 86 minutes of dull football on the pitch, it was too late. The Welsh player still has a lot to prove, he’s nowhere near Cristiano Ronaldo yet and if Real Madrid are to reach Barcelona’s level they need Bale to step it up. Madrid could have won had they still had the services of Morata. Juve’s star showed his former employers exactly what they were missing out on, a number 9. Karim Benzema’s absence wasn’t enough to grant Javier Hernandez a starting spot, yet this proved costly.
Juventus’ coach Massimiliano Allegri should be happy with his club’s performance and result. A 2-1 win has been well-deserved but qualification to the final is not guaranteed but it is in Juve’s hands. Allegri knew that his club should have scored more, especially with Fernando Llorente’s chance. The Italian club has won the domestic league which means there should be no reason for the starting XI expected to play against Real Madrid to take part in a meaningless Serie A game against Cagliari. It was clear that Allegri is focusing on the return leg rather than the fixture with Cagliari as he said: “”I can only take my hat off to the players. Now we will prepare for the game for a week so we can fight it out in Madrid.”
On the opposite hand, Real Madrid cannot allow their players to rest, they have a very tough test in the weekend ahead of the return leg, Madrid will host fourth placed Valencia at the Santiago Bernabeu, any mistakes could cost them the league title. Playing Sergio Ramos in the midfield was no help as he gave countless balls away.
In short, the champions are the better team on paper, but with pressure piling up on them on the domestic front, they might not be able to give 100% when they host Juventus. When Real Madrid lost 2-1 away to Roma in the Champions League in 2008, they were expected to grab an easy win at home, but they ended up losing 2-1 at their own turf. Juventus can replicate the same scenario and make it to the final. Time will tell us who will make it to Berlin!