For a long stretch of last year’s Champions League final, Juventus looked like it was capable of upsetting defending champions Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo opened scoring, but Mario Mandžukić responded with an overhead kick that will go down as one of the best goals in the competition’s history. Juve hung with Los Meregues for the first hour.
But after Casemiro scored a deflected goal, Madrid took control. Ronaldo found a second shortly afterwards, and Marco Asensio finished the night with a fourth goal in stoppage time, causing Juve to suffer a bit of an embarrassing loss on the scoreboard. It would be Leonardo Bonucci’s final game with the Old Lady, and Gigi Buffon looked like he knew it might be his last shot at winning a European title.
Just under a year later, Juventus will have its shot at revenge. On Friday, the Bianconeri were drawn against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals, and will have a chance to deny Madrid’s historic run to a third consecutive title.
How Real Madrid got here
While Madrid’s Round of 16 draw looked tricky, it coasted through to the quarterfinals with relative ease. Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain were supposed to cause Los Merengues serious problems, but Madrid posted a 3-1 win in the first leg at Parc des Princes, and Neymar was injured in a Ligue 1 game between the two legs. Madrid was able to field a rotated team and win 2-1 at home in the second leg.
How Juventus got here
The Bianconeri’s road was much rockier. After running out to a quick 2-0 lead at home, Juve was surprisingly outplayed by Tottenham Hotspur over the final hour of the first leg, and eventually drew 2-2. Spurs added an insurance goal in the first leg at home, but collapsed in the second half. Goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala sent Juve through 4-3 on aggregate.
Key player: Paulo Dybala
It’s been an up-and-down season for Dybala, who has occasionally looked like Juve’s best player, and occasionally disappeared as well, to both injury and runs of bad form. Dybala will need to be the best version of himself for Juventus to have a chance to beat Real Madrid.
This should be a highly competitive tie. Real Madrid isn’t as good as it was last season. But it still looked stronger than Juventus in the last round of the competition. Real Madrid wins by one goal.