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REAL MADRID

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JUVENTUS

Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Wednesday 13th May, 2015, 20:45 GMT

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Juventus travel to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night to take on Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final. The recently-crowned Italian champions know that any kind of result which sees them avoid defeat will help them reach their first final in this competition since 2003. They face a tough task despite their lead against the reigning champions who are looking to defend the title for the first time in the revamped Champions League era but know they must score or face elimination after defeat in Turin thanks to goals in each half from former player Alvaro Morata and Carlos Tevez. Cristiano Ronaldoa s away goal does offer Los Blancos hope as does their home record. In the league this season, they have scored at least once in every home game and have managed 58 goals in their 18 matches at that venue to date.

It is a similar story for them in Europe too with 15 goals in their five home matches in this competition to date so the Bianconeri will likely be called upon to defend with the class that they have become accustomed to. Massimiliano Allegria s side have already produced disciplined defensive, counter-attacking performances away from home in the knockout rounds already this year in Dortmund and Monaco, a good showing in the Spanish capital last season in the group stages will also give the Old Lady hope and confidence of knowing that they can perform in that environment.

Team News and Tactics

Real Madrid

It has not been a good week for Real Madrid, with defeat in the first leg last week followed by a 2-2 draw at home to Valencia in La Liga on Saturday which left Carlo Ancelotti’s side four points behind the league leaders Barcelona with just two games remaining. The Champions League now seems the only realistic possibility of a trophy this season. The Spanish side are attempting to become the first team in the modern era to successfully defend this competition and they will still be confident of advancing despite losing the first leg in Turin. Such is the pressure in Madrid, Ancelotti might well lose his job if the 11th European Cup does not arrive. Real Madrid were beaten 4-3 at home by Schalke 04 in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash last month, but they have won 19 of their last 22 European games on home soil. The Spanish outfit have also triumphed in 22 of their 36 two-legged European ties when they lost the first leg away from home, but they have lost each of the last four in that situation.

Real Madrid have been eliminated in their last three European Cup semi-finals against Italian sides. Juventus beat them in 2003, Torino in 1992 and AC Milan in 1989. But the Spanish side have won 21 of their 29 home games against Italian opponents and only lost six times. Los Blancos absolutely breezed through the group stages this season a winning all six of their Group B fixtures to top the section on 18 points. They only stumbled past Schalke and Atletico Madrid, however, which will be a concern for Ancelotti at this stage. Ending the season without a major trophy is always seen as a disappointment for a club of Real Madrid’s size and history, but they will need a strong performance in front of their own supporters. The possibility of a stunning final against Barcelona will surely act as the motivation. Real Madrid had a scare against Valencia when Toni Kroos was forced off in the first period. The German took to social media on Sunday, however, to deny claims that he would be out for the remainder of the season. Kroos also trained on Monday, before Ancelotti revealed that the problem was not muscular. It is expected that Kroos will start against Juve, but Luka Modric is still on the sidelines with a knee problem. Karim Benzema could also be back following a knee problem, but it is expected that the Frenchman will start on the bench. Dani Carvajal and Marcelo should both return at full-back, while it is currently unclear where Sergio Ramos will be deployed. The Spaniard returned to centre-back against Valencia and might retain that position with Raphael Varane dropping out. Javier Hernandez is likely to start in a forward position alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3):Casillas(Gk); Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; James, Kroos, Isco; Hernandez, Ronaldo, Bale

Real Juve

Juventus

Juventus clinched their fourth successive Italian title with four games to spare on May 2. However, success in Europe’s premier competition has been hard to find in recent seasons. In fact, the last time that the Old Lady reached this stage of the Champions League was in the 2002-03 season, when they eventually lost on penalties to great rivals AC Milan in the final. The Italian outfit have made a serious impression in this season’s competition, however, and showed their credentials at this level with a strong performance in the first leg. Their home form has always been strong, but they have also not conceded a single goal in any of their last three away games in this competition, which included a 0-0 draw at Monaco in the quarter-finals. What’s more, Juventus have won 33 of their 41 European ties where they won the home first leg a including all four when the score was 2-1. That said, Juve’s record in Spain is not too strong a winning on just three of their 21 trips and losing 14 times in the process. This is also their 11th semi-final appearance in the European Cup and they have won seven of those two-legged ties.

For a club of Juventus’s history, a total of two European Cups is a little disappointing. In terms of their progression to this stage, they finished second in Group A behind Atletico a collecting 10 points from their six games. They did lose 1-0 away to Atletico, however, and that score in Madrid on Wednesday would take the home side into the final on away goals. Borussia Dortmund were dispatched 5-1 on aggregate in the round of 16, before the Italian side beat Monaco 1-0 on aggregate in the quarter-finals. They have only conceded twice in their last seven Champions League games, meanwhile, which is an indication of the task facing Real Madrid. Juventus were handed a huge boost at the weekend when Paul Pogba, who had been out since March 18 with a thigh problem, made a scoring return against Cagliari. Morata and Tevez are expected to keep their places in the final third, with Massimiliano Allegri keeping faith with the players that performed in Turin. Martin Caceres and Kwadwo Asamoah are still on the sidelines.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-1-2):Buffon(Gk); Lichtsteiner, Chiellini, Bonucci, Evra; Pirlo, Marchisio, Pogba; Vidal; Morata, Tevez

Key Facts

  • 47% of the teams that have won 2-1 at home in the first leg of a knockout game in the Champions League (9/19) managed to reach the final.
  • Juventus have been in this situation twice before and have always managed to qualify for the next round: in quarter final v Olympiakos 1998/99 & in last 16 v Borussia Dortmund this season.
  • Juventus and Real Madrid have both won eight games in their encounters in the European Cup/Champions League (D1).

Players to Watch Out For

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

The Portugal ace struck a record 17 times as Real Madrid claimed their tenth crown last May and has nine more this campaign. He will be their go-to guy on this big occasion once again.

Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)

Sidelined for six weeks with a calf injury, Pirlo returned for the Monaco first leg game and was immediately influential, his pass leading to the penalty that decided the tie. The 35-year-old midfielder will play a crucial role if Juventus are to progress from this massive clash.

Prediction

Real Madrid 3a 1 Juventus (After Extra Time)

This game is in the balance after Cristiano Ronaldo’s away goal in Turin but Madrid should be wary of a Juventus counter that could prove decisive. The hosts may be forced to field a very attacking midfield trio, praying that the likes of Kroos and Benzema are available for selection. Juventus are still the underdogs but with Paul Pogba back fit they will fancy their chances of winning the midfield battle once again and can usually rely on their defence to get the job done.

Blast From the Past

A double from Alessandro del Pierro helped Juventus win 2-0 at the Bernabeu in 2008.