When Cristiano Ronaldo converted a spot-kick for Real Madrid during the first half the of the Champions League Semi-Final second leg against Juventus, football fans and the global media must have been expecting the first ever ‘El Clasico’ final in the prestigious tournament with Barcelona awaiting the winners. That Ronaldo penalty had levelled the aggregate scores but the Real away goal in a 2-1 first leg loss counted for double, and so the Spanish appeared set for an encounter with their bitter Spanish rivals. Unfortunately for Ronaldo and his team-mates, Juventus refused to allow that to happen.
A second half equaliser netted by Alvaro Morata silenced the Bernabeu home crowd and a sense of urgency was then instilled into the Real Madrid passing movements, some of which seemed hurried, desperate and at times inaccurate. Morata had refused to celebrate scoring against his former club while Claudio Marchisio was guilty of wasting a clear opening later in the match when one-on-one with Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas but as the referee blew the final whistle, Juventus probably deserved to progress into the final with a 3-2 aggregate triumph.
A challenge by Giorgio Chiellini on James Rodriguez was correctly adjudged to be a foul and a penalty from which Ronaldo converted with ease, but other than that incident, Real Madrid were restricted to a few half-chances several of which landed at the feet or head of Gareth Bale.
With Karim Benzema recalled from injury but clearly not fully fit, Bale was asked to perform the role of a central striker and that may not suit the abilities of the Welsh international.
Bale missed several chances on Wednesday evening, more notably a far post header, but was never allowed sufficient time to gain accuracy with his efforts on goal due to the quick reactions of the Juventus defence. The Welshman began his career as a left-back and then progressed into a fast skilful wing-back during his successful years with Tottenham. He is perhaps best deployed as a winger with space to run with the ball, but his limitations as a striker are being exposed by the formations used by Carlo Ancelotti.
It now looking increasingly likely that Rea will fail to win any trophies this season, a prospect which will cast into doubt the future of Ancelotti, but for veterans Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon, there is now the opportunity of playing in a Champions League final with Juventus at the respective ages of 36 and 37 years old.
Who knows, a solid defensive performance similar to that produced against Real Madrid on Wednesday evening could yet stifle the feared Barcelona front three of Messi, Neymar and Suarez and while Juventus are not famed for winning by emphatic scorelines, they do possess the players capable of scoring vital goals when required.
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