Madrid were rescued by a late penalty after a shocking performance at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid survived an almighty scare as Cristiano Ronaldo converted from the spot in the dying stages to knock Juventus out on aggregate in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Bianconeri spectacularly wiped out the three-goal deficit when Mario Mandzukic (twice) and Blaise Matuidi pulled the visitors level in what was poised to be a historic comeback.
But a penalty call deep in injury time gave the reigning champions hope. Mehdi Benatia brought Lucas Vazquez down inside the box and Ronaldo stepped up to lash one into the top corner to seal Juventus’ fate.
Los Blancos may have ultimately won, but they were poor for most of the night. Here are the three things they got wrong on a crazy night of football.
#1 Playing Gareth Bale instead of Karim Benzema
Manager Zinedine Zidane went with a 4-1-2-1-2 formation that looked good on paper. But there was one change – Gareth Bale was finally given a go while Karim Benzema dropped to the bench. Now, whilst that appeared to be a good move considering his rich vein of form this year coupled with the Frenchman’s recent struggles, it totally backfired.
Bale cut a frustrating figure and his performance against Atletico Madrid at the weekend should’ve served as a warning. But Zidane paid no heed to that. He once again left Benzema out of the starting XI, but in games like these, it’s his propinquity to drop deep and regain possession; lay incisive passes in and around the box and also help out in the wings that could’ve come in handy as the hosts struggled to break down a well-drilled Juventus side.
The Welshman hardly ever posed a threat going forward and was rightly subbed off at half-time.
#2 Failing to address the defensive frailties
Even though Real Madrid appeared to be cruising to another Champions League title prior to their performance last night, the chinks were always there. No team exposed it more than the Rojiblancos in the Madrid derby last Sunday.
The hosts were horribly exposed on the wings and the first two goals on the night were engineered from there. Carvajal was easily beaten on both occasions in the air by Mandzukic, while the defensive pairing of Varane and Vallejo looked far from assured.
One of the foremost reasons for Real Madrid’s dismal form in the league is the lacklustre defense, and the shortcomings were there for all to see once again.
#3 Real Madrid let complacency creep in
Real Madrid were pegged back early on
This is the flip side of entering a tie with a healthy advantage. And when the advantage is as great as three goals, there is scope for complacency to set in.
Real Madrid fell prey to this and almost paid a hefty price for it.
Unlike the first leg where they dominated the proceedings and grabbed an early lead, they let Juventus take control and were punished for it as early as the 76th second. That was enough to spur the visitors on, who then took the game to the hosts.
Had Real been just as hard-hitting as they were in Turin, it wouldn’t have been as easy as it was for Juve.
They may have achieved their objective in the end, but it does little to mask all the deficiencies present in their game.