Nobody wanted a repeat of 2015. At least, nobody who was on this side of the Champions League final where Juventus was again playing one of La Liga’s two true giants. We didn’t want to see another loss in a European final happen. Not by a long shot. It didn’t matter how it happened, just avoid another crushing defeat on the biggest of European stages.
And yet, it did.
For the second Champions League final in the last three years, Juventus finished on the wrong side of the final scoreline. Instead of seeing Gigi Buffon lift the Champions League trophy for the first time in his career, we were left to see our legendary captain fight back his emotions as Real Madrid scored a pair of second-half goals to take the lead for good.
The Juventus from the first half wasn’t there coming out of the break. It’s as simple as that. Juve were arguably the better side in the opening 45 minutes. In the second half? Not even close to the same team.
What the hell happened to Juventus at halftime?
I sure as hell would like to know because I’m struggling to figure it out.
Things looked so good to open the game. So, so good. And that’s even with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring his 500th Champions League goal this season to give Real Madrid the lead. Then Mario Mandzukic scored one of the best goals you’ll ever see in a Champions League final and you’re thinking so many happy thoughts.
Then it just all fell apart.
Another deflected goal. Another Ronaldo goal. And then Max Allegri subs off Paulo Dybala for Mario Lemina and the white flag is basically raised.
It was a second half Juventus would like to forget almost immediately, one where they looked like a shell of the team we saw for a good portion of the Champions League knockout rounds and then the opening half in Cardiff.
Instead, this will be a second half that nobody will forget simply because of how bad it turned out being. So, so, so bad.
The final score reads 4-1 in favor of Real Madrid, the first team to repeat as champions since the Champions League became the Champions League. But with how the first half went and then how the second half went, it feels so much worse than that.
Finishing the season with a domestic double isn’t a bad thing. But having to settle for two titles just feels so disappointing knowing how Juventus had a chance to take home all three trophies they were playing for this season.
Can we re-do that second half? I sure would like to re-do that second half.
It was time for Juventus to win their first Champions League trophy in 21 years. It was time to win the treble. And then, poof, it wasn’t. This stinks.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Gigi Buffon deserves none of this. Nobody deserves the kind of terrible luck he’s had in Champions League finals. I hurt so much for him.
- Buffon’s 5.3 WhoScored rating is the biggest crime in the history of WhoScored ratings.
- Mario Mandzukic’s goal. Seriously.
- I still can’t believe that goal.
- I’m sorry, but it was just so good it deserves more bullet points.
- The three previous bullet points were typed at halftime when I was in a good mood.
- The people who will say Gonzalo Higuain was basically a no-show need to ask this question as well: What the hell happened to Juventus’ defense? They had allowed four goals in the Champions League entering Saturday night’s final. They had four dropped on them in the span of 90 or so minutes in Cardiff. I don’t get it.
- Paulo Dybala started out so well and then was subbed off for Mario Lemina in the second half.
- Speaking of Lemina, he was Juventus’ third and final sub of the night. Real Madrid’s third sub of the night was Alvaro Morata. I think we know what Juve needs to address in the summer transfer window.
- Sergio Ramos ... no comment.
- You get the good with Juan Cuadrado. You get the bad with Juan Cuadrado. He shouldn’t have been sent off for that, but doing it right in front of the assistant referee? Come on, man. What we doin’ out here, man?
- I’d write more on this, but I feel like it would just be incoherent ramblings of a disappointed Juventus fan. Then again, you could probably say that about the previous 700 or so words in this post, too.