It's decision time for both Carlo Ancelotti and Max Allegri. The Italian managers have each gotten their respective teams this far, but the Champions League semifinals is still anybody's for the taking. Juventus may have a 2-1 aggregate lead, but the chances of Real Madrid getting to its second consecutive final are more than just 'okay' at this point.
Will either manager change their tactics based on the first leg's result? How much will the fact that both sides have injured stars returning impact the second leg? Dare Allegri make any changes other than having Paul Pogba step in for Stefano Sturaro in the starting lineup? Legitimate questions, people!
No matter what, Juventus know a thing or two about being up 2-1 and on the road for the second game in recent European contests. Different team, different level of talent, different venue, all of these things are true. And seeing as Real Madrid will need at least one goal, they will certainly try and dictate the pace of play early on at the Bernabéu.
Allegri has made it no secret he feels like his team will need at least a goal or two in Wednesday's second leg — an incredibly clear indication that Juve aren't going to just sit back and defend like crazy for 90 minutes. And based on how the first leg went, maybe he just tweaks his tactics rather than completely shaking them up because his team is in the lead on the aggregate scoreline.
Real Madrid (4-3-3)
Iker Casillas; Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Isco, Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez; Gareth Bale,Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo
There seem to be two squad selection decisions looming over Ancelotti's head right now. For one, he has to decide where to play Sergio Ramos. Does he play the Spaniard in his more natural central defense spot? Or does Ancelotti play Ramos in the center of midfield like was the case in the first leg? That, of course, will have a trickle down effect in both defense and midfield.
So, say Ancelotti does decide to put Ramos in the center of the midfield, maybe they're starting formation looks a little something like this on Wednesday:
Ancelotti's other selection dilemma has to do with who his main striker will be — Javier Hernandez or Karim Benzema. The Frenchman has yet to feature since suffering an injury, and Chicharito has filled in admirably in his absence, scoring the goal that got Real Madrid into the semifinal against Atlético Madrid last month. But Benzema is the clear No. 1 striker in Real's squad when healthy. And if he's good to go, you would have to think Ancelotti is going to let him loose.
Gianluigi Buffon; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Patrice Evra; Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba; Arturo Vidal; Álvaro Morata, Carlos Tévez
If it is indeed a 4-3-1-2 formation Allegri decides to go with, the Juventus starting lineup seems pretty straightforward. If Allegri deems Paul Pogba ready to go, then pretty much every other piece of the starting XI will fall into place. (Having a full-strength squad for such an important game is nice, isn't it? Yeah...) The likelihood Allegri sides with a three-man defense doesn't seem all too likely right now for the simple fact that he's been the first one to admit that Juve will need a goal or two to advance to the Champions League final.
And many of us who follow Juventus on a regular basis know that Allegri hasn't shied away from switching formations mid-match both domestically and in Europe. So if Andrea Barzagli doesn't get the start, it doesn't mean he won't be playing any kind of role — especially if Juventus are winning Wednesday night or defending a lead on aggregate.