Down go the champions! The dream UEFA Champions League final of Barcelona vs. Real Madrid is now dead, as the latter half of the El Clasico rivalry and reigning European champions bowed out of Europe’s most prestigious club competition on Wednesday, 1-1 (2-3 on agg.) to Juventus in the semifinal round.
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Gianluigi Buffon’s first act of desperation came in the 20th minute, when the veteran shot-stopper reached full extension to get two hands to Gareth Bale’s viciously swerving, 30-plus-yard shot, which looked destined to sneak inside Buffon’s left-hand post.
Buffon was helpless barely two minutes later, though, as Giorgio Chiellini took down James Rodriguez inside Juve’s penalty area and a penalty was awarded to Los Blancos. Cristiano Ronaldo, having had a penalty saved against Valencia on the weekend, sent Buffon to the left and slotted the ball to the right. 1-0 on the day, 2-2 (Real ahead on away goals) on aggregate.
Juve regained the lead in the tie through through Alvaro Morata, a Real youth academy product and scorer in the first leg, who broke the hearts of Madridistas all across the world when we slammed home a rebound from close to the penalty spot. 58 minutes on the clock, 1-1 on the day, 3-2 to Juventus (Real’s away goal advantage now nullified) in the tie.
Iker Casillas kept Real’s hops on life support just 10 minutes later, when Claudio Marchisio found himself one on one with the legendary Spanish ‘keeper, having been fed through by Arturo Vidal. Casillas made the massive, diving side, sprawling all the way out to his left.
Juve, recently crowned Serie A champions, will face Barcelona, likely-to-be-crowned La Liga champions, in the Champions League final on June 6 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Isco, Rodriguez; Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema (Hernandez 67′)
Goals: Ronaldo (PK – 23′)
Juventus: Buffon, Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra, Marchisio, Pirlo (Barzagli 79′), Pogba (Pereyra 89′), Vidal, Tevez, Morata (Llorente 84′)
Goals: Morata (57′)