Juventus vs. Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo and the Mostly Likely Match-Winners

Greg JohnsonSpecial to Bleacher ReportNovember 4, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 23:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF celebrates scoring their opening goal during the  UEFA Champions League Group B match between Real Madrid CF and Juventus at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on October 23, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Antonio Conte's work at Juventus has returned the Old Lady to the top table of European football, but with the reigning Serie A champions currently lodged in third place behind Galatasaray in Group B, the former midfielder must mastermind a victory over first-place Real Madrid.

Conte must find a way.
Conte must find a way.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Failure to secure all three points against Los Blancos would dent Juventus' hopes of climbing out of the group and into the knockout stages, with Conte's team off the pace with just two points after three games.

A 2-1 away loss to Madrid at the Bernabeu in October capped off a dismal run of Champions League games that began with a 1-1 draw in Copenhagen and a 2-2 draw with Galatasaray at home, which could yet prove to be a huge missed opportunity come December.

Galatasaray are currently second in the group with four points behind Madrid, whose 100 percent record so far has earned them nine.

With their next game against Real taking place in Turin, however, there's still a chance that the team can find their feet in Group B and pull off a famous comeback over the next two months.

Chiellini is suspended.
Chiellini is suspended.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

It all starts against Madrid, though, and with Carlo Ancelotti's team looking impervious at the top of the group and growing stronger by the week in La Liga, Juventus will be up against it in order to find a way to nullify the Galacticos and apply their own pressure at home.

Juventus can take heart from the fact that they were able to freeze the scoreline and go close to equalising, even after being reduced to 10 men after 48 minutes in their away defeat to Madrid. That sending off means key defender Giorgio Chiellini will miss their home encounter.

With the Turkish champions looking to grab an away win against FC Copenhagen, the Italians will have to defeat Ancelotti's undefeated group leaders to make sure that this is where the fight back begins.

Below are some of the likely match-winners that will be on display as Juventus take on Madrid on Match Day 4 of the Champions League group stage.

 

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 23:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF celebrates scoring their opening goal during the  UEFA Champions League Group B match between Real Madrid CF and Juventus at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on October 23, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo

Fresh from scoring a vital brace against Rayo Vallecano in Madrid's 3-2 away win at the weekend, Ronaldo will be keen to demonstrate his omnipotence in Europe once more.

Sepp Blatter's jibe about the attacker's love of hair gel clearly touched a nerve, and after having referenced the FIFA president with a celebratory salute in his side's dramatic 7-3 win over Sevilla, the Portuguese could be set to try to dismantle Juventus single-handedly.

He claimed three of Real's seven goals on the night to slay Unai Emery's team with an excellent hat-trick.

Ronaldo is likely to be in a determined mood.
Ronaldo is likely to be in a determined mood.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Considering how often sides attempt to double up on the former Manchester United maestro by sticking both their full-backs and wingers on the forward, the lone wing-backs on either side of Conte's favoured 3-5-2 formation shouldn't pose Ronaldo too many problems in Turin.

They certainly didn't in Madrid, where he scored both of Real's goals in a 2-1 victory over Juventus in their first Group B clash on October 23.

Juventus' trio of central defenders and hard-working midfielders could well find themselves sucked into a battle on the flanks to contain Madrid's in-form danger man should he feel inspired by Blatter's barbs and Messi's recent mini goal drought.

With his main rival uncharacteristically quiet and the media spotlight fixed upon him by controversy, what better time than now for Ronaldo to end the Italian champions' European dreams and press his claims for a Ballon d'Or win?

 

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 30:  Gareth Bale of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring Real's opening goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Sevilla FC at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on October 30, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Gareth Bale

If Ronaldo is Madrid's headline act then Bale is the undercard, and with two goals and four assists in his last two games, a landmark performance against Juventus would confirm the Welshman's arrival as a true Galactico after a difficult start to life in Spain.

Turning again to the those recent results for Real, it was actually Bale, rather than hat-trick hero Ronaldo, who was the man of the match in Madrid's 7-3 home win over Sevilla, according to WhoScored.com.

Bale has found his form in Spain.
Bale has found his form in Spain.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Having set up two and scored two himself, the former Tottenham Hotspur winger put in a complete performance to drive his new team to victory.

Bale famously destroyed Maicon in 2010 when the Spurs faced Inter in the Champions League, and he will be hoping for another memorable night in Italy against Conte's men.

Like Ronaldo, his direct style could be too much for Juventus' system, especially if both forwards arrive in Turin in form and in the mood to let off some fireworks.

Even if the Portuguese does go on a rampage, as he did against Sevilla, it could be Bale picking up the match-wining plaudits.

 

PARMA, ITALY - NOVEMBER 02:  Paul Pogba of Juventus scores the opening goal during the Serie A match between Parma FC and Juventus at Stadio Ennio Tardini on November 2, 2013 in Parma, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Paul Pogba

Speaking after Juventus' 1-0 away win over Parma, the Old Lady's 20-year-old midfield prodigy made it clear that he understood the importance of his side's showdown with the team atop Group B with three wins out of three.

As reported by Goal.com, the Frenchman told the post-match media: "[N]ow we're thinking about Real. We must win, because it's a vital game." 

Is this the man to deny Madrid?
Is this the man to deny Madrid?Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Pogba was the man who supplied the all-important winning goal against Parma, and was also the key player in Juventus' 1-0 derby day win away to Torino back in September.

A bit of youthful verve and creativity through the middle could be just what the Italian champions need to break through Madrid's all-star attacking hordes at Juventus Stadium.

Surprisingly strong in the air and a powerful presence on the ground, Pogba could be the ideal man to drag his team up off the Champions League canvas by landing the punch that downs Real in Turin.

 

TURIN, ITALY - OCTOBER 30:  Carlos Tevez of Juventus controls the ball during the Serie A match between Juventus and Catania Calcio at Juventus Arena on October 30, 2013 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Carlos Tevez

El Apache's antics at Manchester City may have somewhat hampered his reputation, but with his die-hard attitude and endless tenacity on the pitch unrelenting, he remains exactly the sort of player you'd want to rely on in a tight spot.

With six goals in 14 appearances spread across the league and Europe so far this season, the Argentinian hasn't struggled too much for goals, although he is yet to find the net in the Champions League for Juventus.

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 23:   Carlos Tevez (C) of Juventus gets past Luka Modric (L) of Real Madrid CF during the UEFA Champions League Group B match between Real Madrid CF and Juventus at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on October 23, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Firing home to smash Madrid's perfect record and haul Juventus into contention would be a rather excellent and fitting way for a player such as Tevez to break his duck.

Sergio Ramos and Pepe are unlikely to enjoy the taste of their own medicine. Tevez is likely to offer Madrid's defenders, showering them with constant attention as he seeks to capitalise on every mistake, mishit pass and lapse of concentration to snatch an opportunity for his team.

Considering how brittle their egos can be at the back, Tevez could well drive the two centre-backs into the referee's book should they feel it unfair that their own strong-arm gamesmanship could be turned against them.

Even if Juventus win from a free-kick scored by Andrea Pirlo, it may still have been the former City and United striker who played the role of match-winner.

 

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 23:  Arturo Vidal of Juventus complains to referee Manuel Grafe during the  UEFA Champions League Group B match between Real Madrid CF and Juventus at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on October 23, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonza
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Arturo Vidal

Much like Tevez, Vidal will be an incessant presence at the heart of Juventus' challenge to Madrid.

The Chilean is one of the strongest and most competitive midfielders in world football, as well as a complete footballer, as shown by his influence on the team's scoring and assists charts this season.

With six goals in 14 games and three assists, Vidal has outgrown his caricature as a marauding defensive midfielder with an insatiable appetite for winning football matches into a true midfield monster, able to devour games whole.

Against Madrid, Juventus will be hoping that their star man in the middle will not only negate the influence of players such as Luka Modric and Isco, but also show the Galacticos that glamour means nothing without grit, power and determination.