Yesterday saw the end of the Champions League semi-finals and two battling teams reach the final in Berlin.
Carrying a 2-1 lead to the Bernebau, Juventus knew that defensive solidarity was required to hold off the attacking prowess of The Galacticos. It was obvious Madrid were going to created many chances during the night and that they would need to take them. But after 23 minutes, Juventus veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini brought down James Rodriguez in the area to gift Real Madrid the chance to take advantage in the tie. Cristiano Ronaldo duly stepped up to place the ball down the middle and past a stranded Buffon in goal, Ronaldo equalised Lionel Messi’s Champions League goal record to give Madrid the lead on the night. After which Madrid continued to threaten and create and almost added to their lead through Karim Benzema ust before half time.
After the break Madrid continued to press, but to the surprise of the Bernebau crowd, the Italian team were still a threat and in the 57th minute a devastating attack by the Turin based side was finished off with a composed finish from former Madrid player Alvaro Morata to silence the home supporters. This meant that the team in white needed a goal to take the tie into extra time and two goals to take them to the final.
Hernandez was introduced to strengthen the attack following tiredness from Benzema. For the remaining 30 minutes the little pea was the most lively player on the pitch creating chances for his teammates. Normally a team has that one big chance to turn the game on its head and that chance fell to Welshman Gareth Bale. Ronaldo’s lofted cross fell to Bale at the back post for what seemed to be a reenactment of the goal he scored in the final 12 months ago in Lisbon but the heavily scrutinised Brit failed to convert and this time headed narrowly over from just a couple of yards out.
That was the only clear chance the Galcticos managed to create, which I’m sure will lead to more grief for the world’s most expensive player from the Madrid faithful. The club have had a mixed 2015 after and excellent 2014, a number of big stars have been missing in games such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Gareth Bale and others through injury. This bad form has lead to speculation about the futures of Bale and manager Carlo Ancelotti, with a potential summer spending spree on the horizon and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard outlined as a replacement for Bale.
Real Madrid’s season has fallen apart in the past week with Barcelona virtually clinching the La Liga title at the weekend and now last night they have been stopped in their quest to be the only team to ever defend the Champions League crown and join their main rivals Barcelona in the final in Berlin.
Barcelona themselves carried a 3-0 lead to Munich after an unstoppable performance from Lionel Messi in the first leg. The Bavarians fought well and pulled three goals back to challenge the Catalan side, but two goals from Neymar ensured Barcelona would reach the final in the German sides home country.
Madrid’s season will most likely end trophy-less whilst their biggest rivals Barcelona are well on course for another unforgettable Spanish treble. The Madrid faithful will not like this one bit, and it may make for an interesting summer reshuffle of players and management.
Pictures courtesy of BBC Sport and Getty Images.