Juventus v Real Madrid: reporters' view

UEFA.com's Juventus and Real Madrid CF reporters discuss the strengths, weaknesses, pedigree and potential lineups ahead of their semi-final encounter.

Cristiano Ronaldo looks to evade Carlos Tévez and Paul Pogba in Madrid in October 2013
Cristiano Ronaldo looks to evade Carlos Tévez and Paul Pogba in Madrid in October 2013 ©AFP/Getty Images

Strengths
Paolo Menicucci: Juventus have conceded only five goals so far, keeping six clean sheets. It does not matter if they use a back four or a 3-5-2, the Bianconeri are hard to beat. They have centre-backs in Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli who have played together for years with both Juve and Italy. "I think we have the best defence," Bonucci said. "We know and understand each other perfectly after playing together for so long."

Joe Walker: There is never a good time to be shorn of players of Luka Modrić, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema's quality. However, Real Madrid CF overcame Club Atlético de Madrid without them in the last eight and Bale is back for the semi-final first leg. Throw in James Rodríguez's sensational return from injury – plus the relentless Cristiano Ronaldo – and even a rearguard as watertight as Juventus's will have cause for concern.

Weaknesses
Paolo Menicucci: "We are trying everything to get Paul Pogba back for the return leg in Madrid," said Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri. "He has a good chance of making it." His team have done well in Pogba's absence but Allegri has certainly missed his physical power and unpredictability in midfield – not to mention his accurate shot from distance.

Watch dramatic late winners
Watch dramatic late winners

Joe Walker: Madrid have looked susceptible at the back on numerous occasions this term, especially from set pieces. Such defensive fallibility was illustrated in their 4-3 reverse to FC Schalke 04 in the round of 16 second leg, a result which left them one goal from elimination. Though they achieved two shut-outs against Atlético, there were nervy moments along the way.

Form
Paolo Menicucci: If Juve's quarter-final second-leg display at AS Monaco FC was far from brilliant, Allegri said a few of his key men – especially Carlos Tévez – were struggling with a virus. The Bianconeri then lost their derby against Torino FC for the first time in 20 years, yet a fourth straight Scudetto is now in the bag following Saturday's 1-0 defeat of UC Sampdoria.

Joe Walker: The Merengues notched 22 consecutive wins in all competitions towards the end of 2014, but have since been a touch more subdued (by their own high standards). They have suffered four Liga defeats this year, allowing FC Barcelona to assume pole position. Carlo Ancelotti's side remain firmly in contention, though.

Knockout pedigree
Paolo Menicucci: Juve are semi-finalists for the first time since 2003 and have already exceeded expectations after failing to make the knockout stage last term and being outclassed by FC Bayern München in the 2013 quarter-finals. They have also reached the Coppa Italia final, to indicate an upturn in cup fortunes. "Allegri has brought a sense of calm," said Andrea Pirlo. "He does not give too much importance to individual matches and this has helped us."

Joe Walker: This is Madrid's fifth successive semi-final appearance. Most recently they were 5-0 aggregate victors against Bayern en route to the 'Décima'. This time round, they strolled through Group B with a perfect record before squeezing past Schalke and Atlético. Their capital rivals, though, did get the better of the Copa del Rey holders in the fourth round of this season's edition.

One to watch
Paolo Menicucci: Sidelined for six weeks with a calf injury, Pirlo returned for the Monaco first leg and was immediately influential, his pass leading to the penalty that decided the tie. He then rattled a post with a trademark free-kick in the return. The 35-year-old midfielder scored and hit the woodwork again from set pieces against Torino. Pirlo's right foot is hot to say the least – Iker Casillas has been warned.

Watch as Juventus talisman Andrea Pirlo selects his dream five-a-side lineup
Watch as Juventus talisman Andrea Pirlo selects his dream five-a-side lineup

Joe Walker: Ronaldo dragged his team over the line against Schalke, breaking the record for goals scored in European club competition in the process. The Portugal ace struck a record 17 times as Real Madrid claimed their tenth crown last May and has eight more this campaign. He will be their go-to guy on the big occasion once again.

Prediction
Paolo Menicucci: The holders are favourites, especially because Juventus had no way of handling Cristiano Ronaldo when the clubs met in last season's group stage. The No7 netted three times as Madrid won at home and drew 2-2 in Turin. Juve, however, have little to lose and could give Madrid's defence problems with the pace of Tévez and Álvaro Morata.

Juve beat Madrid in the 2002/03 semis
Juve beat Madrid in the 2002/03 semis©Bongarts

Joe Walker: Real Madrid faced the Old Lady twice in the group phase in 2013/14 and can now sniff an 11th European crown in this campaign too – when on this sort of run, they can be almost impossible to stop. While Juve may have taken the spoils in the last four of the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League – a defeat Madrid's only remaining player Casillas will be keen to avenge – the Spaniards' attacking prowess should prove too much.

Possible starting XI
Juventus: Buffon; Lichsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Marchisio, Pirlo, Vidal; Pereyra; Morata, Tévez.

Real Madrid: Casillas, Carvajal, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos, Ramos, Isco; Rodríguez, Bale, Ronaldo.

Top