Champions League road to final: Real Madrid and Juventus set up Cardiff clash in contrasting styles

Real Madrid and Juventus set up a mouth-watering Champions League final after getting past Atletico Madrid and AS Monaco respectively over two legs of the semi-final. Zinedine Zidane’s side can become the first team to retain the Champions League title when they face his former club in Cardiff on 3 June.

This is Real Madrid's third final in four years while Juventus will be aiming to lift the trophy for a third time after title wins in 1985 and 1996. The last time the Old Lady made the final was two seasons ago, when they lost out to Barcelona. This is not the first time that these two teams will meet in the Champions League final. The last (and only) meeting in the final came in 1998 in Amsterdam, Germany.

Here's a look at how both these European heavyweights reached the final of the European competition.

Real Madrid:

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos celebrate their win over Atletico. Reuters

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos celebrate their win over Atletico. Reuters

Group Stage

Real Madrid were top seeds in their group, which also included Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Lisbon and Legia Warsaw. They finished as runners-up in the group, behind Dortmund who had two more points. Even though Madrid were unbeaten in the group stage, they ended up drawing three matches — twice against Dortmund and a 3-3 stalemate in front of an empty stadium in Poland to Legia. Karim Benzema top scored for Real in the group stages with four goals.

Round of 16

Real Madrid's opponents in the first knockout stage were Napoli, who they defeated 6-2 on aggregate over two legs. In the first leg at home, Napoli took an early lead through Lorenzo Insigne but goals from Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Casemiro sealed a 3-1 victory for the 11-time champions. Madrid had to fight back in the second leg too as Dries Mertens struck early for the French team before Sergio Ramos headed an equaliser and created an own goal to send his team into the quarter-final.

Quarter-final

Zidane's men faced a potentially tricky last-eight clash against Bayern Munich and needed extra time in the second leg to eventually clinch victory, 4-2 on aggregate. At the Allianz Arena, Madrid fell behind once again, but a second-half brace from Cristiano Ronaldo ensured that Real took two crucial away goals back to the Bernabeu. Bayern Munich were left aggrieved by some awful officiating in the second leg as Real Madrid reached the last four thanks to Ronaldo’s hat-trick.

Semi-final

Real Madrid won the first leg 3-0 thanks to yet another Ronaldo hat-trick over local rivals Atletico and then survived an early onslaught by Diego Simoen's men to reach the Champions League final 4-2 on aggregate on Wednesday. Atletico roared into a two-goal lead in the semi-final second leg with a Saul Niguez header and Antoine Griezmann’s penalty, but Isco notched one in the 42nd minute for Real who saw out the game calmly to lose 2-1 on the night and ease into the final. Real have now eliminated Atletico from the competition in four consecutive seasons, including the 2014 and 2016 finals.

Juventus:

Juventus players celebrate after the semi-final win over Monaco. Reuters

Juventus players celebrate after the semi-final win over Monaco. Reuters

Group Stage:

Juventus were top seeds in their group, which also comprised Sevilla, Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb. They finished top of Group H with 14 points, winning four of their six matches and remaining undefeated. Their wins also included an impressive away 4-0 victory against Zagreb. They qualified for the knockout stages on Gameday 5 and closed it out with a 2-0 win at home in the final group stage match.

Round of 16

Juventus set up a last-16 tie against Portuguese side FC Porto, which the Italian side won 3-0 on aggregate. Leading 2-0 from the first leg, Massimiliano Allegri's men sealed the tie when Paulo Dybala drilled in a low penalty after Maxi Periera was sent off for handball. Quickfire goals from Marko Pjaca and Dani Alves in Portugal had put them in command of the tie and the second leg was a dull, boring affair.

Quarter-final

Juventus faced Barcelona in a heavyweight last eight tie, and they shocked their Spanish opponents with a stunning first-leg performance. Paulo Dybala's double and Giorgio Chiellini's header helped them take a 3-0 lead to the Nou Camp. In the second leg, Barcelona tried every trick in the book but they could not crack the Juventus defensive wall, which was brilliantly led by Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. Gianliugi Buffon kept yet another clean sheet and Juventus reached the last four 3-0 on aggregate.

Semi-final

In the semi-final, Juventus were up against an inspired Monaco side, but emerged convincing 4-1 winners on aggregate. At Stade Louis II in Monaco, they ran away 2-0 winners, with Gonzalo Higuain scoring both the goals for his side. In the second leg, defender Dani Alves produced an inspired display capped by a stunning volleyed goal in a 2-1 win that took the Italians into their second Champions League final in three years. Mario Mandzukic netted the opener and Juventus were crusing at 2-0 by half-time. However, Monaco's exciting 18-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe pulled a goal back in the 69th minute, ending a run of six successive clean sheets in the competition for Buffon.

Juventus have been European champions twice; Real Madrid have won the trophy an unprecedented 11 times. Now, over to Cardiff.


Published Date: Jun 03, 2017 03:00 am | Updated Date: Jun 03, 2017 03:10 pm


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