Real Madrid win the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals 0 - 3 away to Juventus (Ronaldo x2, Marcelo). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, tactical review, and post-game podcast.
In a match where Juventus took control for large stretches — attacking with momentum while pressing high to snuff out Real Madrid’s outlets from the back — they were blown away on the scoreline, became demoralized, and stood aside to witness one of the greatest goals in Champions League history while their own supporters stood in awe — an applause ringing around the stadium.
We’re talking about this moment, in case you’re late to the party:
Real Madrid shouldn’t make the mistake of buying Hazard to replace this ball gbeee Christiano Ronaldo. pic.twitter.com/kdcIrRhedJ— Nana Osei® (@nanaoseiike) April 3, 2018
Zidane’s reaction to that Ronaldo goal says it all pic.twitter.com/Gh5SOJYott— Dugout (@Dugout) April 3, 2018
There will be a lot of film study from this game after it’s done. During the match itself, and particularly during that moment, I was in another room throwing pillows around the house and screaming, meaning I lost all journalistic integrity and missed every replay and celebration to the goal (and nearly missed Dybala’s red card shortly after, too). To be sure, most of the things that needed to be dissected will have come before that: Real Madrid (Ramos, Varane, and Keylor Navas in particular) had some terrific last second interventions to mask the lack of defensive shape the team had. Modric and Kroos got caught several times, the midfield trio fell asleep vertically more than once, and Casemiro lost possession three times deep in Real Madrid’s end in the first half alone.
Juventus didn’t take full advantage of any of that. Some of their build-up was good, but a lot of it was slow and lacked conviction in the final third. Defensively, they looked uncharacteristically bad, and looked vulnerable when they conceded the first goal, where Isco held his run and snuck in-behind Mattia De Sciglio before releasing Ronaldo (the greatest off-ball mover in the history of the game) to open the scoring.
While 0-3 flattered Real Madrid by the time Marcelo scored Real Madrid’s third, it flattered Juventus more by the time the final whistle was blown. As I wrote this reaction, Zidane’s men were coming at a short-handed Juve in waves on the counter-attack, but failed to capitalize. Ronaldo should’ve had his hat-trick (with the most obvious chance being alone on goal and shooting over the bar), Asensio had a great chance, and both Kovacic and Kroos hit the cross-bar in this game. In truth, the ending wasn’t a great spectacle and seemed too relaxed, and Cuadrado had a couple great chances to steal a goal late as Real Madrid looked a bit too celebratory.
It was a great result which gifted us one of the most memorable goals in Real Madrid history. We’ll break this down more, tactically and otherwise, in the coming hours.