Juventus stunned Real Madrid — the current European Champions — when they took the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal in Torino on Tuesday afternoon.
Carlos Tevez gave Juve the lead in a 1-1 draw when he served a controversial penalty kick. Referee Martin Atkinsson gave the Italians the penalty, despite offender Dani Carvajal’s shocked expression at the whistle and Tevez scored his 50th goal for his club, giving them a very important advantage.
Now, Carlo Ancelotti’s men are forced to win if they want a repeat of last year’s La Decima and face arch rivals Barcelona and Lionel Messi. Millions of fans are really dreaming of El Clásico after being denied in 2014, when Barca was eliminated 2-1 in the aggregate during the quarterfinals.
On Tuesday’s first UCL semifinal, Tevez was the real star of the match, creating opportunities for Juve early on and in the ninth minute, his efforts payed off. Tevez took advantage of Real’s defensive deficiencies when he got a pass from Claudio Marchisio.
Real Madrid goalie Iker Casillas stopped the shot on net, but Alvaro Morata took the rebound and scored to put Juve ahead of Real. Cristiano Ronaldo — who was perfectly positioned in front of the net — scored the equalizer — his 76th UEFA Champions League goal — in the 27th minute, after a pass from James Rodriguez.
Rodriguez missed the opportunity of putting Los Blancos ahead at the end of the first half, when he got a cross from Isco, but was denied by the crossbar. The match was tied when the teams went in for the break.
Juventus played the classic Italian defense against Real Madrid and used the counterattack creating multiple close opportunities. Tevez and Morata didn’t let up in their efforts to penetrate Real’s defense and the Spanish club was clearly struggling without Karim Benzema — who is suffering from a knee injury, but is expected to return for the second leg.
Though Gareth Bale was back, he was clearly not in top form and Ancelotti chose not to start the hero of the quarterfinals, Javier “Chicarito” Hernandez, who came in late and was pragmatic in the face of this challenge. “What happened today, we’ll take as a learning experience. There is no easy team,” he said.
There is no question Juventus topping Real Madrid was somewhat of a surprise, and they showed more organization and aggressiveness on the field. However, Los Blancos will be fired up for the second leg, when they host the Italians at the Bernabeu. Benzema should be back for that match to help with the shaky offense.
[Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images]