Just a few short hours separate both Juventus and Real Madrid from the kickoff of the final 90 minutes in the Champions League semifinal. Juventus' 2-1 aggregate lead after the first leg came as a surprise to some folks. It was also impressive in the eyes of others considering who the opposition at Juventus Stadium was last Tuesday night.
But much like was the case in 2003, the winner of Juve and Real's semifinal will be heading to the Champions League final. There won't be AC Milan waiting for them, rather Leo Messi and Barcelona after they dispatched Bayern Munich 5-3 on aggregate.
Both Carlo Ancelotti and Max Allegri are expected to have one of their star players back in the starting lineup, with striker Karim Benzema in a race for a start ahead of Javier Hernandez, while French midfield dynamo Paul Pogba is almost a lock to return to Juve's starting lineup tonight. These are the big developments in what has been an otherwise straightforward and uneventful build-up. There haven't been jabs thrown in either direction. Both clubs clearly respect one another and continue to remind us.
But come the opening whistle, all of that will be gone. It will be game time, and the stakes will be only second to what they are out there playing for. This is the Champions League semifinal, dammit. And Juventus has a legitimate chance to advance to their first Champions League final in over a decade.
Oh what a special day this could be.
Match Date/Time: Wednesday, May 13, 20:45 CET, 2:45 p.m. Eastern, 11:45 a.m. Pacific
Venue: Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Madrid, Spain
How to watch
TV: Fox Sports 1 (United States); ESPN Deportes (United States); Sportsnet World (Canada); Sky Sport 1 HD Italia, Sky Calcio 1 (Italy); TV3, TVE La 1 (Spain); ITV1 UK (United Kingdom)
Online: Fox Soccer 2Go (United States); Sportsnet World Now (Canada); Sky Go Italia (Italy)