Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It Happened in Europe: Juventus draw Real Madrid to reach the final

Real Madrid 1-1 Juventus (2-3 on aggregate)
Juventus got the big 2-1 victory in the home leg against Real Madrid, but travelling to the Spanish capital is far different from playing in the bonkers atmosphere in Turin. Yet the Italian champions were up to the task.

Real Madrid had the front foot early on in the match. They controlled possession and got the first early chances. They got their goal in the 23rd minute on a penalty scored by Cristiano Ronaldo. It was a legitimate penalty call, Giorgio Chiellini did hack out James Rodriguez's calf. Ronaldo buried the kick with ease, going high and straight down the center on Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

At this point, the aggregate was tied but Real Madrid were up by virtue of their away goal from the first leg. They conceded a little bit of possession to the Italians, but little headway was made against the Spanish defense. Juventus only managed two shots, one on goal, in the first half despite controlling 53% of possession. Real Madrid, on the other hand, launched 13 towards Buffon's goal with four reaching the target.

The 1-0 score would make it to halftime.

Juventus's breakthrough came 12 minutes after the restart. Juventus had an attack that just wouldn't die. A free kick that was nearly cleared by Real Madrid ended in Paul Pogba, who was mostly absent for the rest of the match before this, heading a cross to Alvaro Morata for the equalizer that put Juve back on top in the aggregate.

Real Madrid then pressed forward with all their weapons. James Rodriguez had one of the best chances of the match when his bending shot from the top of the box had Buffon beat but it sailed over the upper left corner. Gareth Bale had several chances himself, but some kind of hex was keeping his shots out of the net. Seeing the words "Attempt missed: Gareth Bale" on the ESPN FC commentary was a quite common sight.

Amid all of Real's chances, Juve almost bagged that second away goal that would have sealed the match for Juve. Alvaro Morata almost added his second of the match when he received a perfect through pass from Arturo Vidal, but Iker Casillas barely got a fingertip to his shot. Casillas was called upon again just three minutes from full time when Pogba was alone in the box and blasted a shot that, again, was saved by the Spaniard.

Ronaldo and company would get a few half chances as time wound down, but it was not enough. Juve's defense held stout and they return to the Champions League final for the first time since 2003 to face Barcelona.

Barcelona and Juvenuts will meet in Berlin's Olimpiastadion for all the European marbles on June 6.

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