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

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

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Conte must find a way.

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.

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Chiellini is suspended.

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.

 

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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.

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Ronaldo is likely to be in a determined mood.

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?

 

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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.

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Bale has found his form in Spain.

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.

 

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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." 

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Is this the man to deny Madrid?

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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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Arturo Vidal

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

Vidal will be hoping to make a more auspicious contribution to the game on his next foray into Madrid's penalty area.

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.

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