When the semi-final draw was over and it was revealed that Juventus would be facing off against Real Madrid it seemed everyone thought it was a favourable draw for the latter.
Certainly of the four teams remaining in the UCL, Juventus are the side with the least likely chance of winning it due to the incredible wealth and resources the other three have. But drawing The Old Lady may have been the kiss of death for this beaten down Real Madrid team.
This year has been a tale of two Real Madrid teams on the pitch. The first team, the team that was unbeaten in 22 straight matches, while the second is the team that found itself to be the lesser of the two Madrid sides, having been dominated by Atletico Madrid this year until the UCL last eight.
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Ronaldo to step up?
Real Madrid will be looking for their international superstar and current Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo to take over this matchup and have the greatest impact. If Ronaldo wants to be considered the best player in the world, he needs to step up when his club need him the most.
That time might be now with the unlikelihood of Luka Modric being able to play, and Gareth Bale's health being drawn into question. For years Ronaldo has been the superstar of Real Madrid, but for this matchup, he needs to be their leader.
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The armband is just a symbol, the ability to lead is inside of the player and Ronaldo needs his inner leader to shine through. We saw shades of it last matchup when he had a chance to provide the game-winning goal against Atletico, but instead chose to pass the ball to Javier Hernandez for the sure goal.
This is the type of leadership that Ronaldo needs to display to allow Real Madrid to advance to the final in Berlin. Juventus, however, are a side that has more leadership on their team than a coach could ever dream of.
With the veteran play of Gianluigi Buffon in net, Giorgio Chiellini anchoring the back, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio in the midfield, and the resurgence of the great Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez, Juventus are a force to be reckoned with.
Their style of play is dangerous for a Real Madrid team that loves to attack and attack and attack. Juventus's back line and midfield offer an almost impenetrable defence that frustrates teams and leaves them susceptible to counter-attacking goals.
Juventus are a very deceptive team that rely on their collective ability, not individual players. Which is why the absence of budding, young, superstar Paul Pogba, is not the end of the world for The Old Lady.
Their possession statistics leave them only behind Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona for the top in the world. Juventus will look to hold their ground and ward off the impending waves of Real Madrid until they find their perfect opportunity to counter-attack and net a goal.
With the career of the legendary Pirlo coming to a close look for the ageless midfielder to make an impact with his passing, through balls, and his free kicks. Pirlo is a magician on dead balls and finds the back of the net with ease when within striking distance.
All Juventus need are a for Real Madrid to make a mistake and leave the door open for them to strike. This game will come down to which team's leaders step up on the biggest of stages.
Will it be Ronaldo or Pirlo that have the final say in this semi-final matchup?
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