Real Madrid rounded off another successful season with a comfortable 4-1 win over Juventus in Cardiff to seal an unprecedented Champions League double.
The Millenium Stadium (Officially The National Stadium of Wales for this match due to UEFA regulations) was the setting for this heavyweight clash, which pundits had billed as: ‘The Irresistible Force vs The Immovable Object’ in the first ever Champions League final to be played indoors, which saw the most prestigious trophy return to Madrid for a record 12th time. Both teams gave a very good account of themselves and it was the pinnacle of a very successful season for them in this competition, with both having faced stiff opposition to get to this stage, with Real seeing off their city rivals Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals and Juventus seeing off surprise package Monaco at the same stage to seal their place in Cardiff. Pre-match entertainment was provided by The Black Eyed Peas, and Fergie time was not required as Real Madrid coasted to success with the win, with Ronaldo scoring his 600th career goal.
It wasn’t all plain saying for the Spanish giants, however, the first half was an exciting affair and both teams set out their intentions for the match with end to end play which saw a lot of chances created by both teams, but also a lot of fouls early on as each team were fighting to gain a strong foothold in the match. The best early chance came from Juve, with Miralem Pjanic’s shot saved in the bottom corner expertly by Keylor Navas in the Real goal.
The scoring was opened after 20 minutes with a well worked Real move, which saw Dani Carvajal’s ball into the feet of Cristiano Ronaldo expertly guided into the far corner by the Portuguese, penetrating the ‘impenetrable’ Juventus defence, which up until then was looking very solid indeed.
The lead didn’t last as long as manager Zinedine Zidane would have hoped, as a cross into the box by Alex Sandro was headed into Mario Mandzukic at a high angle, but the experienced Croatian striker showed every year of his experience with a magnificent overhead kick that looped over the hapless Keylor Navas in the Real goal. Ronaldo, looking not to be eclipsed, tried the same thing not long after, but his effort was blocked well.
The early scrappiness of the match didn’t go away with Carvajal, Ramos and Dybala all picking up yellow cards in the first 45 and other challenges going unpunished.
The second half started in the same way as the first ended, with both teams putting in a lot of tackles and fouls, disrupting the play. Modric had the best chance for Real with a good effort from 20 yards or so that was well saved by Buffon. A stray ball fell to Casemiro on the hour mark and his shot from 25 yards deflected past the unfortunate Buffon to put Los Blancos back in front. A short time after, Modric’s cross found Ronaldo, who ghosted in at the near post to double the advantage for his side, with his 600th goal in his career and his 105th in the Champions League.
After this, Zidane’s side took full command of the match and were able to effectively seal the victory. As Juve tired, more gaps were opening up and Real kept creating chances, most notably from Karim Benzema and substitute Gareth Bale. Already on a yellow card, Juan Cuadrado received his marching orders after kicking out at Sergio Ramos, who did over-react and make a meal of the challenge.
Real finished off the match after a cross by Marcelo found Marco Asensio in the box and the rising star put the ball past Buffon to make it 4-1 and seal ‘La Duodecima’ for his side, with them becoming the first team to win the competition back to back in the Champions League era. Massimiliano Allegri’s side can hold their heads high despite the result, as they sealed their sixth title in a row and another domestic double in Italy.
Juventus: Buffon, Barzagli (66 ->), Bonucci, Chiellini, Dani Alves, Khedira, Pjanic (70 ->), Alex Sandro, Dybala (78 ->), Higuain, Mandzukic. Subs: Benatia, Cuadrado (66 <-, Sent off 83), Marchisio (70 <-), Lemina (78 <-), Asamoah, Neto, Lichsteiner
Real Madrid: Navas, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos, Casemiro, Modric, Isco, Benzema (88 ->), Ronaldo. Subs: Nacho, Bale (77 <-), Casilla, Kovacic, Asensio (82 <-), Morata (88 <-), Danilo
Feature image credit: TFDuesing