Real Madrid might be favourites to advance to the final, but Juventus could hurt them easily on the break.
After Barcelona qualified for the Champions League final despite their 3-2 defeat in Munich, Real Madrid have to book their place in the Berlin showdown to meet the arch rival. This would be the first ever el Clasico final in the history of the Champions League and the European Cup, however underdogs Juventus stand in their way, who boosted their chances winning the first leg of the semis 2-1 in Turin.
• Juve to hurt Real on the Brake
• Benzema and Pogba to return
• Dramatic finish is expected
On home turf Real are favourites to win of course, and as Cristiano Ronaldo has registered an away goal in the Juventus Stadium, a 1-0 success would be enough for them to reach the final. However Juve showed in the first match a real threat they are able to pose on the break, thus the setting fits for them perfectly. Moreover, gambling news reported that star midfielder Paul Pogba might start, which won’t make things easier for Madrid.
Juve to counter?
According to the default pattern, the Italians will defend their box and Real will be in possession. In the first leg Juve played with confidence, controlling the game and even the ball for significant periods, and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon also called out for brave football before the reverse fixture in the Bernabeu. However, Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri pointed out that it is simply impossible to control Real Madrid at home.
Though Allegri added that Juve cannot reach the final by relying on defensive football only, it seems that Real will be in possession for most of the game indeed. Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti used defender Sergio Ramos in midfield for the away game to stabilize his team while pressing aggressively. That didn’t work out well however, as it hurt his team’s creativity and since Juve were using a midfield diamond, it was impossible for Real to penetrate in the middle.
Real’s chances came after crosses from the wings and Ronaldo scored their only goal after he was left unmarked in such a situation. Juventus probably will go with the same starting formation, but Paul Pogba, who returned from injury last weekend scoring in a 1-1 home draw against Cagliari, could make their midfield even more solid. Thus Ancelotti will need all their team’s creative energy and a good plan as well to turn the game around, since it is really hard to win the midfield battle against the Zebras.
Karim Benzema might come back after a month long absence to help Ronaldo and Gareth Bale up front while Isco and James Rodriguez could support them from midfield. This can definitely improve Real’s attacking play and pressing game, but they might be still vulnerable against Juve’s counterattacks led by the enormously dangerous Carlos Tevez. So, a 1-0 victory would send the hosts to the final nevertheless, it would be unsafe for them to play for that result as the visitors can strike anytime on the break, and players at online sportsbooks could benefit from that.
Real’s only chance to win a trophy
According to mobile betting news, Toni Kroos might retain his role as a deep-lying playmaker after substituted early on Saturday with an injury. Real played a 2-2 draw against Valencia, and that means they virtually lost the race for the league title, as Barcelona lead by four points with two matches to go. Hence Real’s only chance to win a trophy could be in the Champions League, and if they won’t be able to defend their title, that could lead to the departure of Ancelotti.
Since the Champions League brand was introduced in 1992, no team was able to retain the trophy. The last time a team tried to defend the title was in 2009, when Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona defeated a Manchester United side featuring Cristiano Ronaldo. Now, to get a shot at that, Real have to eliminate a team that won 4-3 on aggregate in their last meeting at this stage of the tournament.
That was in 2003, when Juventus reached the final to fail against AC Milan only on penalties. The only player from that Juve side still at his club is Buffon, who revealed that though he won the World Cup in 2006, he never got used to this kind of matches. He expects a very long 90 minutes and he feels that although Juventus went into the fixture as underdogs, now they have pretty much to lose.
“When you are 90 minutes away from a final with a small advantage you always have something to lose. We know that the only way to get through is to play well here”, Buffon said in the press conference the day before the match. Juve will play well if they apply a similar approach to the one they used in the first leg. Allegri has to fine tune his tactics obviously, but enjoying a one-goal lead and – if the expected 4-3-3 v 4-4-2 battle will occur – having a spare man in defence and in midfield as well means they will start from a very comfortable position.
It is very hard to predict whether this will enable them to reach the final or not, but those who bet on sports in the EU might make some money if the upset will come eventually. Goals are expected, though not in a fashion like Bayern and Barcelona produced them on Tuesday evening. The teams’ displays from the first leg suggest that they won’t score over three goals altogether, however an exciting game with a dramatic finish is almost guaranteed.