After Barcelona and Lionel Messi wilted at the Olimpico on Tuesday, Cristiano Ronaldo will be primed to take centre stage once again with a Ballon d’Or-winning performance on Wednesday against Juventus having instigated a comfortable 3-0 first leg lead.
After his out-of-this-world goal against Juventus last week, Ronaldo knows another compelling performance on this stage would nudge him closer to a sixth award. For Juventus, there is pride to play for with the belief that anything is possible in football as they witnessed on Tuesday.
Italian newspaper, Gazzetta Dello Sport, has told Juventus to take a leaf out of Roma’s performance against Barcelona to stage their own comeback. “Juve: now it’s your turn to give it a go against Real Madrid.”
Massimiliano Allegri, in his pre-match press conference, alluded to the belief they can turn the tide against the reigning European champions. “What we want to do is reverse this 3-0.
“It was a tough result, we’ll need to play a complete game against a complete team if we are to get a positive result,” Allegri conceded, as Los Blancos haven’t lost a Champions League home match since March 2015.
Nobody expected us to concede after two minutes in Turin, so why can’t we do the same tomorrow. We need to give our all; tomorrow will help us for the result of the season. We need to be serious as we’re still battling for the league.”
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For Gianluigi Buffon, so much pride will be at stake in the only football trophy that continues to elude him. “We need to be serious, play with dignity, suffer and do all we can. Tomorrow [Wednesday], if you’re ready to fight and die for your team-mates, the match will go in a certain direction, one we want it to go in.”
Though they will be without Paolo Dybala, Madrid are also shorn of their talismanic captain, Sergio Ramos, which means Jesus Valejjo could partner Raphael Varane, which translates to a modicum of opportunity for the Gonzalo Higuain-led Juventus attack.
Allegri will also have to deal with the enforced absences of Andrea Barzagli and Rodrigo Bentancur though he would have the returning duo of Miralem Pjanic and Medhi Benatia.
Current Form: Real Madrid [D-W-W-W-W]; Juventus [W-D-W-W-L-D]
Head to head
03/04/18 UCL Juventus 0 – 3 Real Madrid
03/06/17 UCL Juventus 1 – 4 Real Madrid
13/05/15 UCL Real Madrid 1 – 1 Juventus
05/05/15 UCL Juventus 2 – 1 Real Madrid
05/11/13 UCL Juventus 2 – 2 Real Madrid
For Zinedine Zidane, the match is at halftime and his players must have the bearing that Wednesday’s match is a stand-alone. “The 0-3 result will not change things for us.
“It’s another game and what happened, happened. It was a good game, but there is still 50% of the tie to be played.
“We will have to put in another great game to pass through. I’m only interested in tomorrow’s match and I only think of my team and how we need to play another great game to qualify.”
Meanwhile, Ronaldo has the chance to score in an 11th straight UEFA Champions League [UCL] match – he holds the current record for scoring in 10 straight UCL matches.
Words before the war
“We have one final and it is tomorrow. Then we will see if we get through, and then who we have to face, but we must not think beyond tomorrow’s game.” – Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid Manager
“Real Madrid will be serious and want to play a complete game, too. We need to concentrate on ourselves, not them.” – Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus Manager