Lessons learnt as Los Blancos survive Old Ladies scare

Juventus came into town with a game plan and stepped into the pitch at the Santiago Bernabeu, eager to test out their game plan and it almost worked to perfection, and almost resulted in a week where the Serie A teams would have dominated their La Liga counterparts. Real Madrid FC welcomed Juventus to the Bernabeu for the second leg of their UCL quarter final encounter, with Madrid being on the driving seat with a 3 nil advantage from Turin.

However, Juventus seemed to oust Real Madrid from the driving seat and took over as they sought to deal Real Madrid the Italian job blow. Recall when we explained that Real Madrid have been vulnerable to crosses? Well,  Allegri and his men finally took cognizance of this fact and sought to stun the Santiago Bernabeu faithful.

The game plan of crosses worked to perfection as all 3 goals that Juventus scored on the night came through crosses from the left side of the opposition defence. Douglas Costa was instructed to make mince meat of Marcelo, in a game the latter wouldn’t mind forgetting in a hurry. Marcelo’s position was exploited significantly with marauding runs from his Brazilian compatriot who did a number on him. A far cry from his performance in Turin. All 3 goals for Juventus came from exploiting Marcelo’s defensive position.

Two goals in the first half, and a third approaching the last quarter of the game sent chills down the spines of the Bernabeu faithful, although there was surely some joy in the Catalonia capital with Barcelona hoping for a partner to join them in the eventual ridicule of the La Liga by Serie A. The tension heightened,  although Ronaldo seemed confident enough as he was seen consistently hollering at the spectators to continue drumming their support.

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It was a game of two halves, with emphasis on the two legged ties as the halves. Real dominated away from home, and Juventus did the same. Who would have thought that Madrid would struggle for goals on the night whilst conceding three in the process. Nobody also thought Real Madrid would run away 3 nil winners from Turin. Football! A funny game.

The game was evened up. One more goal from Juventus, and Real Madrid would have to score two against a characteristic Juventus defence that seemed to have regained their resoluteness at the back, alongside a beast mode Buffon in between the sticks. Real Madrid came to life, and piled on the pressure. One cross,  one goal poaching move from Vazquez, a small rush of blood to the head of Benatia, and the sound from Michael Oliver’s whistle came off.

Gianluigi Buffon would take no prisoners as he lunged to challenge the referee and received a straight red. Vazquez almost shed tears of joy. It was the final minutes of the game and Benatia had presented qualification to Real Madrid on a platter of gold to be received by the boots of Ronaldo through the penalty spot. The controversy brewed, till Sczsezny was brought in to face Ronaldo who carried the whole pressure on his back.

One, two steps, and the ball was into the roof of the net. Real Madrid seemed to have escaped the ‘underdog battering the favorite’ script that seemed to be the case in two major games in this round. The events and outcome of the game can only serve to prepare Real Madrid better for what is to come in the last four stages. They are the favorites to go all the way, but the eye opener from Juventus will surely have put them on alert that qualification is only sealed after the final whistle. Friday should serve up some excitement as the 2017/2018 UEFA Champions League draws are made.