Real Madrid has one foot in the semifinal door with a 3-0 win at Juventus, so let’s take a look at some of the main discussion topics from this first leg of the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
1. Was the score indicative of the game?
I’m going to say hell no on this. I know many people are overreacting to the score and are acting like Madrid absolutely won in dominant fashion, but this was really quite the opposite.
Yes, Madrid went up really early on a Ronaldo goal in the 3rd minute but for the next 42 minutes and added time of the first half Juventus was the better side.
Juventus outshot them 8-3 in the first half despite being outpossesed 57% to 43% .They had Real Madrid on the back foot for a large part of the half. It took a miraculous Keylor Navas save to keep Gonazalo Higuain from equalizing. Before that it took a Sergio Ramos (who was great btw) desperate tackle to keep Paulo Dybala from getting clean look from close. Real Madrid also survived two penalty shouts, the first was a possible handball by Casimero and the second was when Casimero looked to possibly trip up Dybala but instead Dybala was given a yellow for simulation. Giorgio Chiellini missed a header and a possible tap in from in close. Juve had their chances but if you’re going to beat the champs you can’t miss the opportunities that they did. As Omar from the Wire said “If you come at the king, you best not miss” well Juventus missed.
Juventus looked like they were going to break through at any point until a mishap by Giorgio Chiellini and Gianluigi Buffon led to a point blank chance by Lucas Vazquez that Buffon somehow kept out but that led to Ronaldo’s over head kick goal that you will see replayed on a loop for the next month, at this point the game was over and the tie was likely over but it’s not like Real Madrid didn’t have to sweat things out for a while.
2. Real Madrid follows a similar recipe
As we all know Real Madrid has won two straight Champions League and in doing so they have followed a similar recipe in doing so.
They haven’t always been the most dominant team in a lot of their matches during this time. In fact the one time I was blown away was the final last year against Juventus was they crushed the Old Lady and dominated them in doing so especially in the second half, but they haven’t been this dominant that frequently during this run.
The recipe they followed during this run is that they seem to be comfortable with being outplayed, holding on a little in the back, get great center back play, a big save or two from Keylor Navas, and then wait for the moment or two of magic to come from Ronaldo. It works all the time and it really makes you wonder how someone is ultimately going to take them down.
Ronaldo is going to get all the headlines in this, as he should, but this is another example of the evolution of CR7 that we have seen over the past few years.
In his prime he no doubt was influential in the game for large portions of every game he ever played in, but over recent years he has passed that baton to guys like Luka Modric and Isco and has focused on being the best goal scorer on the planet.
He showed off his skill set which makes him probably the best goal scorer on the planet today. He should probably be called CR9 not CR7 these days.
Both of his goals showed why he has become the top #9 on the planet. His first goal he showcased his unbelievable ability to find the quiet area. Every great goal scorer is excellent at this but Ronaldo is probably better than anyone in the world at this. He naturally has great movement but he has such a knack for staying unnoticed but when the opportunity strikes making the perfect run out of nowhere to catch the defense sleeping, which is exactly what he did on the first goal. There was great buildup play by Marcelo and Isco and then Isco played the perfect cut back to Ronaldo who was wide open and made his outside of the foot finish look easy.
Some might say that it’s on the defense that you can’t lose a guy like Ronaldo, which is why it takes great skill to be able to hide like he is and always find himself in the right place at the right time.
On a side note this is also why Benzema is so important to this side, sure Benzema misses more than a fair share of great chances which fruatrates Madrid fans but he also has the ability to make runs to take up defenders which allows Ronaldo to make these runs and find these quiet areas.
His second goal showed his ability to score the spectacular goal. After a great save by Buffon he again found himself in the quiet area around the penalty area and scored an overhead kick that was so good worss don’t do it justice.
He still has the ability to play the perfect pass if he wants, he just isnt asked to do this as much anymore. For their third goal after a great give and go with Marcelo and Isco, Marcelo found Ronaldo at the top of the box, they played their own give and go with Ronaldo sending Marcelo in all alone who had a cool finish of his own. If the overhead kick from Ronaldo wasn’t the dagger this cool passing play was.
He also missed chances like any other great goal scorer does. He missed multiple sitters for his hat trick but ask any great scorer like Suarez or Salah they miss chances all the time but when you get yourself in position to get a volume of chances like these guys do and with their ability they’re going to score a lot of goals.
Ronaldo after today increased his lead for goals in this competition with 14.
I’m sure Ronaldo was pretty much everyone’s man of the match but if you ask me who Real Madrid’s best player was it was Isco, he was absolutely fabulous. If it was his work on their first and third goals or if it was him leading the attack from his familiar position at the top of the their 4-4-2 diamond, the majority of good things that happened to Madrid in this game came through Isco.
He completed every single pass he attempted today, 54 of them in total. He links up perfectly with Benzema who is great at dropping off and holding play up so Ronaldo can run off, he works perfectly with Toni Kroos and Modric to lead the attack through the midfield and works the ball outside to Marcelo and Dani Carvajal who provide great width to this lethal attack.
All these things were showcased today which is why Madrid was able to overcome a Juventus team who despite the score came to play.
No doubt he is one of the most electric players on the planet, but he is still young and he is definitely a player that brings out plenty of hot takes and I think this game was a great example of this.
I thought he was excellent in the first half, he was linking up with Sami Khedira and driving the play and leading the Juventus attack which was keeping Real Madrid on their heels for a large part of his first half. Juve also created an overload on the right side with Alex Sandro and Kwadwo Asamoah which pulled Modric out and gave Dybala space. He took advantage of this and led the attack, but they weren’t able to convert from all this good play which is the good and bad you get from him.
He did receive a yellow card for simulation that could have been a bit harsh, but came up big later.
But despite all the good he brought you can argue that he wasn’t clinical enough when he needed to be if he was going to lead his team to victory I already mentioned how ridiculous Isco was in this game and maybe the difference between these two teams is how clinical Isco was and how inconsistent Dybala was. If you flip those two players put Isco on Juventus and Dybala on Real Madrid you probably have a different outcome.
To me maturity is probably the biggest problem that plagues Dybala. No doubt hes shown a high level of petulance at times throughout his time in Turin and if he wants to vault himself from a kid with a massive amount of talent to a kid that becomes an elite player he is going to have to show more maturity and with more maturity is going to bring more consistency.
The moment that showed this more than anything else was his second yellow. He had been great in this game I will say it, but he was also no doubt frustrated from a lack of final product, and right before Madrid got the Wonder goal from Ronaldo, so no doubt he and his teammates were frustrated but you can’t risk yourself in the way he did. He makes a stupid challenge that was definitely deserving of a second yellow, just out of frustration. This isn’t the type of thing world class players do. World class players have to deal with all kinds of adversity but just deal with it and continue to do their jobs, but Dybala loses his mind, picks up a second yellow, puts his team down a man, and gets himself suspended for the second leg, and at this point it was ballgame. The tie is over we may as well not even bother with the second leg, there is no way Juve is coming back from this.
This is the type of area that Dybala needs huge improvement in, if he does he can be one of the best players in the world, he’s only 24 so there is time for him but he has to decide soon if he wants to grow up or not.
6. What Madrid did today was very rare
Juventus losing in Turin doesn’t happen very often. So, its kind of a big deal when it happens which just shows how big of an accomplishment it was what Real Madrid did today. Before today they have lost just once in last 75 games at home, have lost 6 times in the 7 years it has been open, today is the most goals they have allowed at home since November 2012 against Inter, and this is the first time they have lost at home in 5 years since losing to Bayern Munich in April of 2014.
7. In closing
I am sure there are going to be a lot of crowing of Real Madrid after this but to be honest I didn’t feel like either of these teams were winning this competition. Both teams are great but I don’t think either team is as good as they were last year and I think that both teams are a step behind Manchester City, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich and are even with Liverpool, so before we crown them tonight remember they will have to face even better opponents than PSG or Juventus if they’re going to 3 peat, it almost doesn’t seem fair but that’s the reality.
Is this over? Yes, down 3-0 to 3 road goals, having to travel to Madrid without Dybala means this is over. Better luck next time, Old Lady.
You know what else is wild, this is Madird’s 8th straight semi, that’s madness.
Sergio Ramos and Rafael Varane were awesome at center back in this game so Ramos being out for the second leg especially since they really don’t have a backup right now with Nacho being out is a bit of a break with the 3-0 lead going home, if Juve had a shot this could loom large over the second leg.
This was a fun game despite the score line, it could have gone either way, but this proved again that playing well isn’t enough to beat this Real Madrid team.