Sport Champions League

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Bold Lady finds her old magic as brilliant Tevez leaves Real on the ropes

Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1

Juventus' forward from Argentina Carlos Tevez celebrates after scoring a penalty kick during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match Juventus vs Real Madrid (Getty Images)
Juventus' forward from Argentina Carlos Tevez celebrates after scoring a penalty kick during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match Juventus vs Real Madrid (Getty Images)
Juventus' midfielder from Chile Arturo Vidal, left, vies with Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match Juventus vs Real Madrid at the Juventus stadium in Turin (Getty Images)
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo scores against Juventus' goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon, centre, during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match Juventus vs Real Madrid at the Juventus stadium in Turin (Getty Images)
Carlos Tevez of Juventus FC competes for the ball with Pepe, left, of Real Madrid CF during the UEFA Champions League semi final match between Juventus and Real Madrid CF at Juventus Arena on May 5, in Turin, Italy (Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Juventus' midfielder from Chile Arturo Vidal, right, fights for the ball with Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match Juventus vs Real Madrid (Getty Images)

Henry Winter

Make that the Bold Lady. Juventus were marvellous against the champions of Europe, defending with Italian-trademarked resilience when required but also attacking again and again, playing with pace and panache. Alvaro Morata scored their first goal and although Cristiano Ronaldo equalised, the outstanding Carlos Tevez gave Juventus a deserved edge to take to the Bernabeu next week.

Juventus supporters stood to salute their team at the end and no wonder. Tevez and Morata were exceptional, constantly unsettling Real's defence. Arturo Vidal was a non-stop dynamo. Andrea Pirlo was the calm amidst the swarm. Juventus looked a team, a contrast to Real's collection of individual talents. Gareth Bale was disappointing, described by Roy Keane as "anonymous" in his ITV analysis.

Ronaldo scored but was far from his imperious best. They missed the focal point provided by the injured Karim Benzema. For all Real's below-par display, the real focus should be on Tevez.

For long period of this enthralling first leg, Juventus were utterly bewitching, especially when Tevez was involved. It was not simply his eye for goal in the second but his formidable work-rate, his acceleration and technique that so impressed against such venerable visitors. For the first 25 minutes, the Old Lady had given the aristocrats of European football a real hand-bagging and could have led by more than Morata's close-range strike.

Their fans formed a pre-match mosaic reading "We Are Ready" and they certainly were. So were their players. With Paul Pogba still recovering from his hamstring problem, Stefano Sturaro made only his 11th appearance for Juventus, partnering Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo in midfield.

"Keep calm and pass it to Pirlo" was the message on the fans' T-shirts and was the mantra shaping many of his team-mates' thoughts. Yet Sturaro and Marchisio were influential in that ferocious 25-minute period of Juventus dominance.

All wearing black and white had immediately sensed the vulnerability in the Real defence, noted the nerves riddling Iker Casillas, appreciated the open space between the back-four and Toni Kroos and tore forward. Juventus had three attacking forces whose movement caused endless problems.

Tevez was everywhere, dropping off and collecting the ball, and heading high up the pitch, raiding through. Morata was a one-man swarm, hounding Casillas and Real's defenders. Casillas was spooked by Morata after three minutes, hurrying his clearance, which fell kindly for Marchisio. He immediately swept the ball through for Vidal, who screamed for a penalty as he encountered Pepe but Martin Atkinson waved play on.

The Juventus fans howled their displeasure, but they were soon singing again, soon stoking up the atmosphere again. This magnificent arena was co-designed by a Juventus fan and it shows. It is a ground made for amplifying sound. The volume grew as Juventus took control.

The force remained with Juventus during which they scored, exploiting Casillas' declining strengths. Marchisio slipped the ball in for Tevez to unleash a shot that Casillas failed to hold and Morata touched the ball home at the far post.

Showing respect for his former colleagues, Morata kept his celebrations to a minimum. There was no restraint on the terraces. For the Juventus faithful, this was a longed-for sight of their team challenging for the Champions League again, troubling the most famous club in the world.

But Real have Ronaldo. They have pace and technique and they finally started to find their rhythm. James Rodriguez played the creator, slipping between Juventus defenders, meeting the ball which he hooked across for Ronaldo to head in his 54th goal of the season. His 76th Champions League goal took him clear of Lionel Messi, who takes his turn against Bayern Munich tonight.

Real should have added another before the interval following a magical passing move. The ball sped between James, Kroos, Marcelo before Isco crossed from the left and somehow James headed against the bar.

Juventus were out early for the second half, clearly determined to regain the lead. It came their way from a ferocious break by Tevez after 57 minutes. He tore upfield, arrowing into the Real box as options like Marcelo scythed down Morata. On Tevez raced until Dani Carvajal, the Real full-back, brought him down foolishly. Tévez placed the ball on the spot, took a long run-up, sprinted in and drove the ball past Casillas for his seventh goal in the Champions League this season. Not bad for a striker who went four years at Manchester City without scoring in the Champions League. It was proving to be one of the European games of the season, a feast with frequent spice. Giorgio Chiellini accused Ronaldo of diving.

Juventus could have extended their lead when the substitute, Fernando Llorente met Pirlo's free-kick with a header that Casillas saved.

There was still time for Chiellini to pick up a booking for taking out Ronaldo when, very definitely, there was no dive. Next week promises fireworks. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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