After Cristiano Ronaldo’s simply stunning overhead kick that put Real Madrid up 2-0, the color commentator on Fox Sports 1 here in the United States posed a question.
“What can you do to defend that kind of strike from Ronaldo?”
Here’s a simple answer: Thirty seconds or so before that moment of incredible Ronaldo-ness, not have a complete communication breakdown between two of your most experienced players and that moment of brilliance never happens. If Giorgio Chiellini actually clears it or Gigi Buffon is just a little quicker to try and scoop up the ball, Ronaldo isn’t breaking Twitter with his latest Champions League stunner.
Instead, we’re left to play the “What if...” game again like so many times before on the European stage.
The final score read 3-0 and Juventus head into the second leg next week without Paulo Dybala after he picked up a pair of yellow cards on Tuesday night. It’s a daunting task no matter who you have available to you knowing that a certified killer of every Juventus dream in Europe is lining up right across from you and is once again killing every defense he faces in the Champions League.
And so it goes.
I feel safe in saying that Juventus were the better for a good portion of this game. Come at me, I don’t care. We’ve seen Juve be their own worst enemy before, and that is what happened again. Seriously, just look at the big moments of the game:
- Ronaldo was absolutely unmarked in the box on his first goal, something that is absolutely baffling when you consider that he is one of the two best players in the world. And because of it, Juve were fighting an uphill battle on the scoreboard from the third minute on. Not ideal, if you ask me.
- Juve’s best chance of the night, a “shot” that came off Gonzalo Higuain’s thigh in the first half, produced one of Keylor Navas’ best saves of the season.
- The complete breakdown at the back between Buffon and Chiellini. When was the last time we’ve seen those two combine to produce such a blunder? (And, yes, that was a great save by Buffon right before Ronaldo’s second goal, but it’s one he should have never be forced to make.)
Juventus could have made it interesting, but they didn’t. And then Ronaldo went and did Ronaldo things, making the inability to score a goal when Real Madrid were hanging on the ropes even that much more painful to see take place.
But this just seems to be the theme when Juve plays Real Madrid the last couple of years.
No Alvaro Morata goal, Mario Mandzukic overhead volley or decisive Buffon dive to his right or left at the Santiago Bernabéu can save Juventus this time around.
What a sad, sad sentence that is to write.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Seriously, how the hell do you not mark Cristiano freakin’ Ronaldo in the box?
- Seriously, how the hell do Buffon and Chiellini, who are closing in on 40 seasons combined in a Juventus jersey, make that kind of error at the back?
- Honest question for Real Madrid people who hopefully won’t be jerks in the comments: Are you at the point where you expect Ronaldo to score a brace in every Champions League game he plays? Because, good lord, that dude is the machine of all machines in Europe.
- Honest question for Juventus people who hopefully won’t be jerks in the comments: Will Max Allegri be around for the next time Juventus plays Real Madrid in the Champions League?
- If this end result doesn’t tell you that Juventus’ roster needs a good amount of reshaping in the summer, I don’t know what does. Maybe they can just sign somebody like Ronaldo — that’s possible, right?
- A sentence I did not expect to type about four days ago: Sami Khedira was one of Juventus’ best players against Real Madrid.
- I don’t really know what to make of Paulo Dybala’s game tonight. There were some really good parts, but there were some not-so-good parts, the sending off being one of the biggest ones because duh. He created so much, but couldn’t capitalize on any of it. He was fouled and crushed to a pulp by Sergio Ramos and the like, but still created plenty of chances for himself and his teammates. And yet, nothing came of it.
- Juventus vs. Real Madrid in the Champions League can be summed up like this: You know Ronaldo is going to ball, but we’re left to wonder who might step up for Juventus each and every European game. That’s the difference — and it’s a noticeably large one.
- The first leg of the quarterfinals against a Spanish giant played in Turin last year was soooo much better. So, so, so much better.
- I’m not in the mood to imitate Patrice Evra right now. I hate this game.