May has been a good month for Juventus, the Italian club clinching their fourth consecutive Serie A title while also securing a place in the finals of both the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.
The latter – their first appearance in European football’s showpiece event since 2003 – was sealed only last week in a 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabéu. Four days later, the Bianconeri travelled to another of the continent’s most famous stadia, facing off against old rivals Inter at San Siro.
With Roberto Mancini’s side languishing in mid-table and the visitors no longer needing the points, Max Allegri made no fewer than seven changes to his starting XI for what had been rendered something of a meaningless encounter. The two teams exchanged first half goals with Mauro Icardi and Claudio Marchisio getting their names on the score sheet, and the game looked to be petering out into an uneventful draw when the ball fell to Álvaro Morata at the edge of the box.
Real Madrid 1 Juventus 1 player ratings
Real Madrid 1 Juventus 1 player ratings
1/22 REAL MADRID: Casillas 7
The Spaniard was excellent when called upon tonight and showed his experience to keep the back four composed as Juventus pressed for an away goal. Couldn’t do anything about the goal.
2/22 Carvajal 7
Carvajal was steady tonight and looked to get forward whenever he could to help the attacking cause. Provided great deliveries from wide positions.
3/22 Varane 7
The young centre back improved hugely from his dismal display in the first leg. He didn’t give Morata a moment’s peace and showed his potential on the big stage.
4/22 Ramos 7
Looked more comfortable in his familiar centre back position and held his own well against the in-form Tevez. Showed his importance at the heart of Madrid’s defence.
5/22 Marcelo 7
After a night to forget in Turin, Marcel was back to his best at the Bernebeu. Defensively sound but gave great support to Ronaldo on the left flank.
6/22 Isco 7
The young Spaniard showed his class tonight, pressing high on the Juventus midfield and finding space in front of the back four on a regular basis.
7/22 Kroos 7
As always, Kroos was assured on the ball and looked to get things going from deep. Finally filled the void left by Luka Modric in the midfield.
8/22 James 7
He may have gone down easily for the penalty but the Colombian was a nuisance in his favoured central midfield role. Found the gaps constantly.
9/22 Bale 6
Although he wasn’t at his majestic best, Bale showed some improvement on his first leg performance. Still seemed quiet and low on confidence though.
10/22 Benzema 7
Benzema showed Madrid what they were missing in the first leg; a focal point. Stretched the Juventus back four and linked up well with the midfield.
11/22 Ronaldo 7
Constantly tried to get Madrid going even if it didn’t come to fruition. Scored the first goal and but cut an incredibly frustrated figure in the second half.
12/22 JUVENTUS: Buffon 7
The Italian veteran had another vintage display tonight. Pulled off countless world class saves to keep Juventus in the tie.
13/22 Lichsteiner 7
The full back struggled to deal with Ronaldo defensively but showed his attacking prowess with some mazy runs down the flank.
14/22 Bonucci 6
Didn’t make a single tackle in the first half and it showed. The experienced defender was overrun in the second leg and should’ve been punished more often.
15/22 Chiellini 6
Ridiculous challenge on Rodriguez for the penalty but recovered well in the second half to give his side some sort of control.
16/22 Evra 6
Showed that he can still play at this level marking Bale out of the game for much of the second leg. Looks to be a key figure in the Juventus squad.
17/22 Marchisio 7
His industrious work ethic and perfectly timed runs from midfield made him a nuisance for the Madrid defence. Should’ve had a brace to himself.
18/22 Pirlo 6
Wasn’t at his best tonight but gave Juventus what they needed when holding onto their lead; composure in possession. Made up for his lack of legs with his positional intelligence.
19/22 Pogba 7
The Frenchman held his own at the Bernebeu and showed the world what he’s all about. Did his bit for his team’s defensive effort but didn’t show as much creative prowess as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him.
20/22 Vidal 7
Worked tirelessly in a trademark performance for the Chilean. Kept the ball well when others around him were feeling the pressure.
21/22 Tevez 8
The diminutive forward continues to take his game to another level. Led most of Juventus’s counter attacks even if he was more of a provider than a direct goal threat.
22/22 Morata 8
The ex-Madrid man played his part in both legs and tonight put the final nail in the holder’s coffin. Great finish under pressure.
Lashing a right-footed effort towards Samir Handanović, the Nerazzurri keeper somehow contrived to spill it over the line, handing Juventus an unlikely winning goal. Running off towards the corner flag, the Spanish striker was soon mobbed by jubilant team-mates, eventually emerging wearing sunglasses and posing for the cameras. Memes discussing his bright future soon flooded the internet, much to the surprise of the 22-year-old who revealed that the celebration was not something that had been pre-planned.
“Someone threw them at me and I put them on,” Morata told reporters after the game, making the news again in the same week as his goal had helped eliminate former club Real Madrid from the Champions League. The two goals took his tally to fourteen in all competitions, and he has firmly established himself in Allegri’s first-choice line-up following his €20 million move last July, blossoming into the deadly finisher he always seemed destined to become.
The man himself is in little doubt as to why he has taken such a leap, believing one of his new team-mates best summed up the education he is receiving in Serie A. “Carlos Tevez often tells me that Italy is like university for strikers,” Morata told La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this year. “He’s right, as here you become a real player in every aspect. This is a unique opportunity for me.”
“I am truly in love with Juve and want to spend much of my career in the Bianconeri jersey,” he added, but his performances this season has prompted talk of a return to Madrid. This largely centres on the belief that Los Merengues will activate the buy-back option they insisted was part of the deal taking him to Juventus, yet the clause has been widely misreported.
Official documents from the Serie A champions make it abundantly clear it will only be effective “at the end of the 2015-16 season or at the end of the 2016-17 season,” with no stipulation regarding this summer. Unlike this past weekend in Milan, he did not celebrate either of his goals against his old side, calling his strike at the Bernabéu “the most painful I’ve ever scored,” and going on to say that even thinking about a return would be “disrespectful to Juventus.”
He may currently be consumed with ideas of beating Barcelona, but Álvaro Morata’s future is there in black and white for anyone who cares to look beyond the tabloid headlines.Reuse content