Preview: Juventus vs Real Madrid
Juventus vs Real Madrid is the most eye-catching of the Champions League quarter-finals. The rich history of both clubs, the number of players to have switched Madrid for Turin and vice versa, their unforgettable encounters of the past, their burning desire to rewrite history yet again.
This is a match-up that has and always will capture the imagination of football fans the world over, and the excitement and anticipation will only rise as time ticks down towards that first leg on Tuesday 3 April in Turin.
ROUTE TO THE FINAL EIGHT
Juventus reached the quarter-finals after a pulsating 4-3 aggregate victory over Tottenham in the round of 16. Two goals in three second-half minutes by Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala completed a famous comeback at Wembley, after Spurs had scored three in a row between Turin and London to cancel out Higuain’s early brace at Allianz Stadium.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid paved the way for their eighth quarter-final in as many seasons when they came from behind to beat PSG 3-1 in their first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu with two goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and a late Marcelo strike. Ronaldo it was to get his name on the scoresheet again in Paris, as Casemiro found the net too in a comprehensive 5-2 aggregate victory.
While Real have had the better of Juventus in two Champions League finals (in 1998 and 2017), the Bianconeri have overcome the Spaniards in every other knockout tie: the 1996 quarter-finals (2-1 on aggregate), 2003 semi-finals (4-3), 2005 round of 16 (2-1) and 2015 semi-finals (3-2).
Del Piero, Nedved, Trezeguet, Tevez, Morata. Many are the star men to have made indelible black and white marks with win-contributing strikes against Real over the years.
THE MAIN MEN
Any team to reach this stage of the competition is usually brimming with quality and that is certainly the case for both Juventus and Real Madrid.
For Juventus, there’s simply no other starting point than legendary goalkeeper and captain, Gianluigi Buffon. The 40-year-old is in line to make his 110th and 111th appearances in Europe’s premier club competition.
Gonzalo Higuain enters the quarter-finals in red-hot form after netting three times over the two legs against Spurs. Pipita is Juve’s leading marksman in this UCL campaign with five goals.
Paulo Dybala is also enjoying a purple patch for the Bianconeri. La Joya struck four goals in the space of eight days in victories against Lazio, Tottenham and Udinese, before opening the scoring in Saturday's triumph over Milan.
In defence meanwhile, Giorgio Chiellini – one of the standout performers at Wembley – has been instrumental in Juve conceding just once in domestic competition (four times overall) so far in 2018.
In Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid boast the top scorer both in this year’s Champions League campaign (12 goals) and in the history of the competition (117). The Portuguese forward has scored seven times in his five career matches against Juventus.
Los Blancos boast one of the best midfields in world football with Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Isco all brimming with UCL experience. The trio have among the highest pass completion rates between them: 94, 90 and 89 per cent respectively.
Last but not least, Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has built a reputation for finding the net when it matters most. The Spain defender famously denied Atletico Madrid at the death of the 2014 final in Lisbon and his wealth of experience in the competition will be of enormous benefit to Los Blancos yet again.