Tactical Battles That Will Shape Juventus' Clash with Real Madrid
Real Madrid is set to travel to Italy to face off with Juventus on Tuesday in Champions League play. The first meeting at the Santiago Bernabeu ended in a 2-1 victory for the Spaniards, but the second clash could prove even more exciting.
The visitors are looking deadly entering the match with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale firing on all cylinders while Juventus are coming off of two huge wins in the Serie A.
Either side could come away victorious, and the match will most likely come down to a few key battles that will take place. In this article, we will take a look at those tactical battles and how they should play out.
Continue reading to find out which players are set to lock horns, and feel free to get involved in the discussion below!
*Note all statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com.
Arturo Vidal Versus the Double Pivot
In the first meeting between these two giants, Arturo Vidal played an important role. Until his humorous penalty appeal, the Chilean was without question the most menacing attacker Real Madrid had to deal with.
Vidal will likely be just as important in Round 2.
However, Real Madrid’s attempts to handle the attacker will rest heavily on the shoulders of the double pivot. Whether it will be Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Luka Modric or Asier Illarramendi, it will not be easy.
Vidal has a knack for playing all over the pitch and loves to create havoc behind the strikers. Whichever pairing is in the double pivot will have to be at their best, or Vidal could provide the spark that Juventus needs to win the match in Italy.
Look for Vidal to use his pace and his ability to create space to really cause a problem for Real Madrid. With this in mind, Carlo Ancelotti will most likely opt for a more defensive pairing in front of the back line.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale Versus the Juventus Defense
Cristiano Ronaldo was the deciding factor in the first match as he scored both of Real Madrid’s goals. Entering Round 2, the winger could be even deadlier.
In the last two matches, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have combined for seven goals and four assists. That is a scary statistic for Juventus.
The Italians changed things up in the first meeting, deviating from the regular three-man defense for a more traditional one. It is safe to say that test failed and that Juventus will most likely stick with what it knows this time around.
No matter how many players it sticks in defense, it will still struggle to hold back the pairing of Ronaldo and Bale.
Real Madrid will be looking to score as many goals as possible and is in the perfect form to light up the Italians on Tuesday. Juventus has been arguably the best defensive club in Europe over the last few seasons, and this is just the match it will have to prove it in.
Andrea Pirlo Versus Real Madrid's Defense
Andrea Pirlo was miraculously marked out of the match the first time these two met. The Italian magician was unable to provide the creativity he often does, and Juventus suffered because of it.
However, don’t think for a moment that it will happen again.
Pirlo has made his name on being one of the brightest and most influential players in the world, and he won’t let Real Madrid get the better of him twice.
On Tuesday, Real Madrid’s defense will again be tasked with making sure that Pirlo is unable to control the game for the Italians. The midfield will play an important role as well, but it is ultimately the defenders will who dictate how much Pirlo is able to do.
The 34-year-old is invaluable to Juventus. No one else in the squad can do what he can, and he must succeed for the Old Lady to get the better of their Spanish rivals.
Real Madrid's Creativity Versus the Organization of Juventus
Juventus remains one of the most well-organized and smartest football clubs around. It will seek to use its intelligence to get the better of Real and will have one serious issue in its favor.
After the exit of Mesut Ozil, Real Madrid still does not have that one player that ties everything together.
Luka Modric has shown that he is creative, and Isco has been able to link up play, but neither midfielder pulls the strings in total control. Angel Di Maria’s passing oftentimes leads to chances, but he is not a general in the middle of the pitch.
Real Madrid is a team that relies on heavy attacking and deadly scorers. Luckily for Los Blancos, those pieces are there in abundance. However, the lack of a real tactician in the midfield could stunt the performance of the likes of Ronaldo and Bale.
Simply put, if no one is able to give the ball to the attackers, scoring goals will be very difficult.
Modric may be the most likely candidate for Real Madrid, but you can count on Juventus being organized enough to keep the Croatian at bay. In truth, this may be the battle that determines the match.
Everybody Versus the Referee
The real story of the first match between Real Madrid and Juventus was the referee. Many believe that Giorgio Chiellini was unfairly sent off in a call that completely changed the face of the match.
To be honest, this has been a terrible year for refereeing. Hopefully, the man with the whistle will not play as a big of a role this time around, but there is always that possibility.
Everyone just wants to see these two giants go at it. Let’s all hope the referee does what he is supposed to do and control the game rather than decide the game.
With that being said, enjoy this feast of a Champions League match!
Which tactical battles will decide the match? Who will be victorious in Italy? Leave your thoughts and comments below!
Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on the Champions League!