Real Madrid win back to back Champions League trophies, led on by Cristiano Ronaldo
The Champions League final in Cardiff was to be an intense game, with questions to be asked of the tournament’s best defence, Juventus, and the tournament’s best attack, Real Madrid. Juventus came into the game in search of the treble, and Madrid in search of back to back trophies after defeating local rivals Atlético Madrid last year. It played out as expected, in part. The game began fast with both teams creating chances and both teams scoring. The Spaniards ran away with the game after a closely contested first half, however, sealing their 12th win of the sought-after trophy.
The first half started fast, as you would expect on such a momentous occasion. Juventus pressed the play and created some half chances early on. Madrid were able to hold out and then answer with pressure of their own and a sustained period of possession themselves. Both defences were efficient early, but on the 20 minute mark, none other than Cristiano Ronaldo scored. Alex Sandro was found isolated on his flank after a counter, uncharacteristic of Juve’s defence. This gave time for Carvajal to find the Portuguese man on the edge of the box with a short pass across. As you’d expect, Ronaldo placed the ball bottom left from the edge of the box. Bonucci couldn’t block it, and Buffon was left with no chance at all. Advantage Madrid.
Juventus were forced to attack in search of a goal to put them back into the game, and after only 7 minutes of play, they found it. Bonucci’s long pass found Sandro on the left side of the Madrid box. He laid the ball across to Higuain in the center, who controlled it on his chest and passed to Mandzukic alongside him. He too controlled it on his chest, and with a bicycle kick, lofted the ball over Navas’ head into the goal. An absolutely stunning goal from the Croatian which opened the game right back up.
The half continued as it started. With both teams now even once again, the play was end to end right until the half time break. Neither team was able to create anything concrete, but there was plenty of action regardless on both ends of the pitch. The game seemed in the balance going into the second half.
The second half was a different story. In comparison to the close, back and forth first half, Juventus fell apart. From arguably being the better outfit in the first half, they seemingly forgot how to play the game. Immediately, Madrid took over the game. For whatever reason, Juventus looked clueless on the ball. Madrid extended their dominance on Juventus and after 60 minutes of play, Casemiro scores. From a great distance, the ball takes a big deflection and beats Buffon. Despite the deflection, it was a fair reflection of how the second half had played out. Juventus looked rattled now and a mere 3 minutes later, who else but Ronaldo found the back of Buffon’s net. Modric played a nicely weighted ball into the box from the wing after Juve once again gave possession away. Ronaldo met the ball and tapped it past a helpess Buffon.
At 3-1, a comeback seemed improbable for Juve now. It was as if a different team came out after the first half. Kroos, Modric and Isco were running the midfield and playing the ball around with ease, a luxury they weren’t given in the first 45 minutes. Allegri decided to bring on both Marchisio and Cuadrado in an attempt to change the game, however unlikely. Cuadrado certainly had an impact, although not the one Allegri would have hoped. He was booked after 5 minutes of being on the pitch. Remarkably, 10 minutes later, under the linesman’s nose, he pushes Ramos. Ramos greatly exaggerates his fall, and it’s an early shower for the Colombian who is sent off.
Madrid continued their domination and in added time, Marcelo easily made his way into the box. He cut the ball back and Asensio slotted the ball into the back of the goal once more. Embarrassment for Allegri’s men, delight for Zidane’s men, who lift the trophy once more.
After a thoroughly competitive first half, Real Madrid dominated their way past a sloppy Juventus side to claim their 12th Champions League trophy. Ronaldo was once again man of the match with two well taken, crucial goals to steer his team towards the win. Juventus played well early on, and Mario Mandzukic scored a goal of the season contender, but unfortunately it all counted for nothing. Juventus collapsed in the second half and allowed the Spanish giants to establish their superiority. Incredibly, Juventus’ seemingly impenetrable defence conceded three goals in the lead up to the final, and four in the final itself. Real Madrid’s fans will be relishing yet another European victory for quite some time, I would imagine. Of course, the Italians will be questioning what quite went wrong on the night in Cardiff.