Juventus seek Uefa Champions League breakthrough at expense of Real Madrid
Juventus secured their fourth consecutive Serie A title on Saturday night with a 1-0 victory at Sampdoria. The same evening Real Madrid needed all their resilience to see off Sevilla 3-2 to maintain their pursuit of the Spanish league crown. On Tuesday night in Turin, Juve and Real will battle in the quest for 2015 Champions League glory.
Juventus go into the first leg of their semi-final against Real Madrid as masters of their domain.
The opponents on Tuesday at the Juventus Stadium on Tuesday night can't muster that same boast.
Three games from the end of the La Liga season, Real are two points behind Barcelona.
The Catalans warmed up for the first leg of their semi-final against Bayern Munich with an 8-0 annihilation of Cordoba. Real Madrid's prelude on Saturday night was rather more tense. They were gritty in a 3-2 win at fifth-placed Sevilla. Cristiano Ronaldo hit a hat trick in the victory.
And the Portuguese world player of the year will be key in the clash with Juve. Ronaldo will also be aiming to come out slightly better than his former teammate Carlos Tevez in the battle of the strikers. Ronaldo and Tevez were part of the Manchester United side that won the 2008 Uefa Champions League final in Moscow at the expense of Chelsea.
Back then Tevez was very much in the shade of Ronaldo who departed for Madrid after the Champions League success.
Tevez, who left United for Manchester City before heading for Turin, says his Juve team will need to give a near flawless performance during the tie.
Tevez has been at the forefront of Juve's dominance this term. The Argentine has scored 20 league goals on his way to claiming a second Serie A title in as many seasons in Italy.
"It will be a difficult, open and hard fought semi-final, said the 31-year-old. "I don't think there are clear favourites. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win," he added.
Most pundits believe that Real have the slight advantage as they have more experience at this stage of the competition. Juve are in their first semi-final since their march to the 2003 final.
Madrid have been in four semi-finals in as many seasons. They are the defending champions and Carlo Ancelotti, unlike his Juve counterpart Massimo Allegri, has led AC Milan and Real to the title. He also won the European Cup twice as a player with Milan.
Allegri admits it will take a focused performance to gain any kind of ascendancy against Real before the return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on 13 May. "I think we have to be aware of what we've achieved so far and who we're playing against - a great team," Allegri said.
"When you get to the Champions League semi-finals, all the teams are top quality, so you have to be on top of your game to win.
"I don't think a game between Juve and Real is going to finish scoreless. So we have to be just as good in defence as in the final third of the field."
Ancelotti will be without the injured France striker Karim Benzema. However the squad has been boosted by the return from a calf problem of the Wales winger Gareth Bale.
The 25-year-old former Tottenham Hotspur striker is expected to start in attack with Javier Hernandez and Cristiano Ronaldo.
It's a terrifying troika but Juve's vociferous faithful will be confident their own danger men of Tevez and Arturo Vidal will be able to damage Real's back line and the defence of their trophy.
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