Friends, family, foes; we have reached the conclusion of the second leg of the UEFA Champions’ League Semifinals, and the verdict is in. The two sides to dig their studs into the grass of the Olimpiastadion in Berlin on June 5th are La Liga’s FC Barcelona, and Serie A’s Juventus.
While Cristiano Ronaldo will be inevitably gazing listlessly from the window of Real’s bus on the way home from the Bernabeu, former Real second stringer and professional nobody Álvaro Morata will be cleaning the blood off of the dagger that he plunged into the heart of his former club on Wednesday. Originally a product of Real Madrid’s slowly evaporating youth system, in his time with the club’s first team he felt largely unwanted and underappreciated, stating upon his departure that he had “essentially no relationship whatsoever” with Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti. Well, there could be no sweeter revenge than giving his former club the gift of an early departure from the UCL, which he did with a slicing half volley from eleven yards after receiving a flick from the head of French teammate Paul Pogba, resulting from a poorly defended corner kick in the first half. Although tied in the match, the 1 – 1 draw was enough to put Juve through on aggregate.
It was a fiercely fought battle the whole way, and apart from Gareth Bale not being able to hit the broad side of a barn with a 2 x 4 (or do anything in any productive manner whatsoever) Real Madrid looked over and over so close to snatching the goal they needed in the concluding stages of the second half. Juventus brought on extra defender Andrea Barzaghli and parked the proverbial bus in the backfield, and it proved to be enough to stymie the Spanish side’s attackers.
Juventus Meet FC Barcelona on June 6th for the UCL Final. According to ESPN’s “Soccer Power Index,” FCB maintain a 75% chance of victory. This will, of course, be of no concern to Max Alleghri’s boys, as they aim to bring Juventus’ first Champions’ League title back to Turin since 1996. What a match it is sure to be.