Real Madrid has some work to do if they are to have a chance of defending their Champions League title, while Juventus is looking to seal their first ever treble. Can Cristiano Ronaldo be the hero again?
After Barcelona progressed to the Champions League final, attention turns to who they will face. Following a 2-1 loss in Italy, Real Madrid know that failure to overcome Juventus and meet Barcelona in the final will likely leave them trophyless at the end of the season.
The world's richest club (by income) could follow up a cup double - Real won the Champions League and the Spanish Cup last season - with a campaign of disappointment. Carlo Ancelotti's men drew 2-2 at home with Valencia on the weekend, leaving them four points behind league leaders Barcelona with only two games left. Atletico, the team they ended their barren run against in the last round of the Champions League, knocked them out of the Spanish Cup in the round of 16.
To beat Juventus, and perhaps end speculation that Cristiano Ronaldo and captain Iker Casillas are on the way out, Real must cut out the individual errors that have plagued them in recent weeks. Ancelotti confirmed Benzema was 100 percent ready, while Germany midfielder Toni Kroos has overcome his injury scare on the weekend.
"Tomorrow the Bernabeu and the players have to be one," said Ancelotti at the pre-match press conference on Tuesday. "These are games in which you cannot make mistakes. We're very close to reaching a second final and making history."
The same could be said for Juventus. Massimiliano Allegri's team are on course to seal the club's first ever treble. The Serie A title was secured two weeks ago and on June 7, Juventus face Lazio in the final of the Italian Cup. Beating Real Madrid means returning to the Champions League final for the first time in 12 years, and also keeps the club's chances of winning all three trophies alive.
The last time Juventus did make it past the semifinal stage, they beat Real Madrid. "This is the most prestigious and important game I'll be playing in since I joined the club," said defender Giorgio Chiellini, who has been at the club for 10 years.
After a two-month injury absence, Paul Pogba made a goalscoring return to action for Juventus on the weekend and would be a huge boost for the Italian side. Equally important is Real Madrid academy product Alvaro Morata, who scored the opener in the first leg. The Spanish international joined Juventus last summer, but could still return to Madrid if the club exercises a buy-back clause at the end of the season.
jh/rd (Reuters, AFP)