The historical heavyweights of European club football clash in the Champions League semi-final first legs in two match ups of the highest magnitude. Defending European champions Real Madrid travel to the Juventus Stadium in Turin to play the Serie A champions Juventus on Tuesday night whilst Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich make their way to the Nou Camp to take on a red hot FC Barcelona with the big story being Pep Guardiola’s return to the club that he is undeniably synonymous with.
JUVENTUS V REAL MADRID
Record 10 time winners of the Champions League, Real Madrid, come into this match off a hard earned win over Sevilla in La Liga to keep their title hopes alive. The result was courtesy of their talismanic figure, Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a hat-trick in a 3-2 victory at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. Ronaldo seems hell bent on beating Lionel Messi to the Champions League golden boot. The two talents are locked on 8 goals a-piece so far in this Champions League campaign. Ronaldo will be re-joined by Gareth Bale in the starting eleven, who is back after recovering from a calf injury just in time to play.
However Real will be without France International striker Karim Benzema for the first leg so will need his replacement to step up to the mark. Benzema has scored 22 goals this season but is very unlikely to appear against the Italian champions after failing to recover in time from a knee injury.
Real Madrid reached the semis by narrowly coming through the quarters against Madrid city rivals Atletico in a repeat of last season’s final thanks to Javier Hernandez’s late goal. Supersub ‘Chicarito’ will be desperate to start in place of Benzema but may not get his chance to start.
Italy hasn’t been a great stomping ground for The Galactico’s who have not won in their last seven visits to Italy but the Spanish giants have been very solid defensively away from home in the champions league so far this campaign conceding very few and with their riches of attacking talent always pose a threat going forward.
Juventus are featuring in their first semi-final since 2003. The Bianconeri secured their fourth successive Serie A title last weekend with a 1-0 win at Sampdoria. They are unbeaten in twelve European matches at home and have lost just one of seventeen games since moving back into their developed stadium.
Experienced Rolls Royce defender Giorgio Chiellini and majestic midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo were both rested for the game in order to refresh their aging legs for this match and both are expected to play. Carlos Tevez has netted 28 times in all competitions including 6 in the Champions League and is the obvious threat for Ancelotti to consider.