The Line-Up & Tactical Notes
Real Madrid Starting XI: Casillas, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo, Arbeloa, Khedira, Modric, Illarramendi, Benzema, di Maria, Ronaldo.
Juventus Starting XI: Buffon; Caceres, Barzagli, Chiellini, Ogbonna; Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba; Tevez, Llorente, Marchisio.
Madrid, as can be seen from the selection, lined up with three central midfielders and with Isco dropped from the starting line-up. Juventus made the bigger change, from their usual three men at the back to four after conceding four goals at the weekend.
The First Half - Cristiano Ronaldo The Difference Between The Teams
Cristiano Ronaldo '4 (1-0)
Fernando Llorente 22 (1-1)
Cristiano Ronaldo '29 (2-1)
Cristiano Ronaldo scored very early in the first half in the 4th minute. But that early concession aside, Juventus looked the more dynamic team for a large portion of the first half before deservedly (and briefly) equalizing through Fernando Llorente after mistakes by all 4 members of Real Madrid's backline. Marchissio had already forced an excellent save inside 2 minutes from Iker Casillas. In the 33rd, shambolic defending in the aftermath of a Juventus corner saw Andrea Pirlo with a great chance inside the box, with Pepe blocking the shot. Juventus took three times the number of shots Real Madrid did in this first half and had more possession, forcing Luka Modric and Karim Benzema in particular to drop very deep to collect the ball.
But that early goal from Madrid was wonderful and gave the team an advantage. Sami Khedira, who spent large portions of the first half on the right side of the pitch right up against the chalk, squared for Angel Di Maria who slid the ball into Cristiano Ronaldo. Buffon closed the angle as best he could, but Ronaldo made the finish look easy.
It was also Ronaldo who got Madrid's second, through a penalty after Ramos was dragged down in the box by Giorgio Chiellini (with Vidal booked for dissent in the aftermath).
In all, it was a competent enough first half from Madrid, but Cristiano Ronaldo was the main difference between the teams, who put in very even performances.
The Second Half: 10 Man Juventus
Juventus started the second half brightly, but a harsh sending off saw them reduced to 10 men after Chiellini was shown a straight red for raising his arm to block Cristiano Ronaldo's run into the Juve penalty area. The referee and referee's assistants all thought they saw an elbow. But while a harsh decision, it was not really a scandalous one. Chiellini had already conceded the penalty that returned Real Madrid their lead and would have done well to show some caution and give the officials no reason to card him.
For their part, Juventus recovered quickly and looked, from Madrid's perspective, worryingly unlike a team reduced to 10 men. They were brighter, faster, more incisive and more attacking than a very sloppy Real Madrid, who largely failed to capitalize on the situation in spite of some very positive substitutions (Illarramendi for Isco, Gareth Bale for Karim Benzema, and Isco for an excellent di Maria) and Juventus's obvious determination to continue attacking, which opened up space Madrid might have exploited but failed to.
Morata's substitution for Angel di Maria injected some urgency into the attack, but it was not enough to get the goal that would have put the game entirely beyond doubt.
The second half ended scoreless and the game ended the way the first half had - at two goals to one for Real Madrid.
Juventus were the superior team performance, but they slit their own throats by conceding an unnecessary penalty (Buffon had the situation entirely under control when Chiellini dragged down Sergio Ramos). On the other hand, many of Real Madrid's shaky defensive wobbling in the second half was largely down to their own mistakes, not just Conte's attacking substitutions.
It was a complacent, occasionally sloppy performance - and not simply defensively from Madrid that allowed Juventus to look the brighter team, even as they failed to get the equalizer.
Cristiano Ronaldo was simply wonderful for his two goals.
With a spirited Juventus playing to win away from home and down to 10, fans of both teams can anticipate a brilliant encounter at the Juventus Stadium in the next match-day.
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