All roads led to Cardiff in the Champions League this season and with all the intriguing sub plots that surround this Final, we were surely in for an absolute mouth watering classic.
It’s a real intriguing tie, first of all we have the fact that Real Madrid are the the current reigning and defending Champions, and nobody in the Champions League era has won the competition back-to-back. Add to that, the potential hometown hero scenario Gareth Bale is on the bench tonight for Los Galacticos. Sami Khedira departed Madrid for Juventus on a free. Current Madrid striker, Alvaro Morata went from Madrid to Juve and after a stellar season, Los Blancos activated their buy-back clause. Gonzalo Higuain who signed for Juventus from Napoli was at one time deemed surplus to requirements by Madrid and sent off to Serie A where he’s cemented himself as on of the world’s most clinical finishers. Most importantly, from my point of view the fact that Gianluigi Buffon has won everything but the Champions League in his storied career.
Enough talk now lets get to the football.
An action packed first half saw The Old Lady start fast and they threatened early as Keylor Navas spilled the ball but luckily no Juventus player was around to capitalise. Juve continued their early domination until Madrid shocked us all with the opening goal. It was no shock though that the goal scorer was the one and only Cristiano Ronaldo in the 20th minute. Juve took this as a big wake-up call as they put pedal to the metal and stepped up a gear. They made their possession and pressure pay in the 27th minute. Mario Mandzukic put a wonderful overhead kick beyond Navas into the top corner to bring the score level at 1-1. The first half came to a close with the scores level at 1-1.
Madrid start quick in the second half but the Juventus defence was up to the task as they held firm to get the ball away on multiple occasions. Madrid stay in control forcing some pointless fouls from the Serie A Champions. Modric hasd an effort as well forcing a save from Buffon in the 53rd minute. Juventus try to come back but Madrid stay on top as Marcelo ballooned one wide. Madrid kept up the pressure but Juve hold strong. Madrid finally found a break through in the form of Casemiro in the 60th minute after a deflection made it 2-1. Total domination in this second half from Madrid so far. Madrid strike again in the 63rd minute as Ronaldo adds his second on the night and the 600th goal of his star studded career. Madrid’s domination continued as Gareth Bale entered the fray in the 77th minute to a rousing ovation in his hometown. Bale almost scored following introduction but a superb block from Bonucci prevented the game slipping further away. Juve came close after a header from Alex Sandro narrowly missed the far post. More drama in this final after Cuadrado basically tapped Ramos on the shoulder following a tackle. After some theatrics from Ramos, who really did make the most of it, Cuadrado received a second yellow for his stupidity and leaves Juventus with 10 men. Madrid completed the historic rout in the 90th minute after youngster Marco Asensio scored to finish off a beautiful team move to make it 4-1. The game comes to a close at 4-1.
Real Madrid are once again, Champions of Europe! A remarkable and historic achievement as they win the Champions League for a record setting 12th time. Not only that though, they’ve become the first team in the UEFA Champions League era to successfully defend and retain the trophy in back to back season a stunning achievement from Los Blancos.