Tuesday marked the opening of the 2015 Champions league semifinal round as powerful Real Madrid travelled to Italy to face Serie A leaders Juventus. It was a matchup of the dynamic Real Madrid offense against the best defense in the world of Juventus. Which would win the day?
Real Madrid arrived having gone winless in their past seven trips to Italian soil. In fact, Real Madrid have only won four times in 29 all time trips to Italy. Meanwhile Juventus were sporting a twelve game winning streak at home. Could Madrid break the streaks and take an advantage back to Spain with them for the second left?
The Juventus crowd was just amazing from the opening whistle. Loud, cheering and singing they pushed the home side forward. Within eight minutes they had their reward as Juventus jumped in front. Carlos Tevez fired a low shot that forced Inker Casillas into a diving save. Morata was lurking on the back post for the easy tap in though putting the Italians to the lead.
Surprisingly it was a wide open match as both sides were not afraid to get into the attack. Toni Kroos called Buffon into action as the celebrated keeper pushed the well hit shot just wide for a corner. There definitely looked to be more goals in this one. In the 27th minute Real Madrid got the match tied as they were rewarded for a long string of possession. James Rodriguez was in the middle of a nifty exchange on the right wing getting into the box and lifting a nice flick over Buffon to the back post. Cristiano Ronaldo met the feathered ball and headed home from close range. 1-1 and Madrid had the all important road goal.
The visitors should have been in front before the break as a nice Isco overlap got around the Juventus defense. The Isco cross was me by a diving James Rodriguez whose close range header came back off the crossbar. Juventus were a bit lucky there a a great attack was turned away by the woodwork. The game went to halftime all even.
The second half was just as entertaining as the first with Juventus giving the defending champions just as good as they got. The Italian side led by over age 30 veteran players Carlos Tevez, Gigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Patrice Evra and Andrea Pirlo were not overwhelmed by the stage or their opponents.
The decisive play came on a monumental Juventus counter attack in the 56th minute. After clearing a Real Madrid corner kick Carlos Tevez raced away with Daniel Carvajal in chase. As they entered the penalty area Carvajal went for the tackle bringing down Tevez for the penalty kick. Tevez calmly put the spot kick down the middle as Buffon dove to his right for the deciding goal.
Without midfield general Luka Modric, Real Madrid just never played up to their high standards. While they were always dangerous going forward, their inaccurate passing made it difficult to truly mount serious attacking threats. Rarely did Gareth Bale actually attempt to take on his markers while Juve's defensive organisation consistently frustrated the Galacticos. They'll need to sort it out for the second leg back in Spain or be bounced from the competition. With Paul Pogba expected back for the next leg Juventus will have enough firepower to grab an away goal.