Midfield masterclass lays foundations for historic Real Madrid triumph
The Galacticos' midfield duo tipped a finely-balanced game in favour of the Spanish champions in the second half...
The Portuguese might have won all the plaudits and understandably so as his two goals led to the Real Madrid's triumph of UnDuoDecima, but it was some of the most scintillating midfield performances from the Real's magical midfield duo of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos that changed the whole game in the second half.
The clash between Juventus and Real Madrid was a battle between an immovable object and an unstoppable force. The fight between Old lady's rock solid defence and Los Blancos' blistering attack.
Juventus lined up with their usual 3-5-2 system which could morph into 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 if need be. Juventus tend to use man-oriented pressing. The front two press the opposition centre-back with the ball and the rest of the Juve side sit up picking their opposite number and press when not in possession but not too aggressively.
After an equally fought first half, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos let it loose in the second 45 to win it for the third time in four years!
Real Madrid also lined up in their usual 4-4-2 diamond formation with Isco as the attacking midfielder with Benzema and Cristiano up top.
Juventus although started with a 3-5-2 system but they had 4 asymmetrical defenders with Sandro dropping a little deeper alongside the back three of Barzagli-Bonucci and Chiellini.
Allegri put Dani Alves instead of Cuadrado up-top to cut down the attacking threat of Marcelo.
As the game started, Higuain and Dybala covered the centre, cutting down the passing lanes and forced Real centre-backs to play wide. This gave Juve time to press in the wider areas and nullify any Los Blancos' move to reach to Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, who could weave the passes through for Real's forward players.
Zidane also started the game with the same tactic: Making the pitch narrow as he kept Juventus on playing on one side of the pitch with all the midfielders hovering in and around 10-15 yards of the ball, but they weren't very effective doing it.
Juventus took the advantage of it and switched the play through crosses to the other side of the pitch creating multiple 2 vs.1 situations going in favour of Real Madrid resulting in a wave of Juve attacks.
But due to Juve's less attacking prowess from the wider areas, as Dani Alves isn't a natural wide forward and Barzagli hardly played any part in attacking sense, Juventus weren't able to put that advantage into good effect.
On the other hand, Modric and Kroos stayed back to build up the play as their fullbacks bombarded higher up the pitch, most of the times the midfield duo were deeper than the fullbacks in their half.
Real Madrid weren't able to make any great attacking moves in the first half mainly because Isco too was dropping a lot deeper than usual which left the front two on their own up top and no-one to link-up with.
However, against th, odds Real went up 1-0 through a Cristiano Ronaldo goal via a counter attack, but Juve soon equalised with a sublime overhead kick by Mario Mandzukic.
Zidane soon made his first tactical change and went for a flat midfield 3 as Isco dropped in either left or right to fill the space left behind after attacking. Zidane did it to counter Juventus' switch of play.
At halftime, Juventus were looking much the better team and Zidane needed to make some real changes of he were to write the history.
As Real came out for the second half, Zidane had made some very crucial changes. Marcelo started putting in some low crosses behind the Juventus centre-backs for Cristiano to run to and exploit the spaces.
Kroos started marking Khedira and followed him everywhere on the pitch which disrupted Juventus' build up play and allowed Modric to weave his magic through his penetrating passes.
Both Modric and Kroos changed the whole complexion of the game in the second half. Modric constantly received the ball, circulating it to other teammates from deep in his own half. Kroos not only did his job on Khedira but also picked his passes like an Osprey catching fishes from water. Modric too was at his absolute best, breaking the lines of midfield and threading the passes. He orchestrated the game like Beethoven and Mozart rolled into one.
The dominance of Modric and Kroos made Real Madrid dominate the second half completely. With Modric keeping the ball longer and picking intricate passes to Isco and Cristiano, Real scored soon in the second half through a Casemiro long range shot which deflected into Buffon's goal.
Soon after it, Modric put in a sublime cross for Cristiano to show his killer poacher instincts and score his second goal of the game, giving a two goal cushion to the mighty Real Madrid. Cuadrado red card could hardly have had much influence on the game as it was too late for Juventus to make a comeback in the game.
Real Madrid wonderkid Marco Asensio who came on as a sub too got himself into the Real Madrid folklore as he scored the fourth and final goal in the dying minutes. The dynamic and other-worldly duo of Kroos and Modric ensured Real Madrid to write history as they became the first club to win back to back Champions league trophies.
Toni Kroos could be the bargain of the decade, keeping the current market in scenario, the German has become not only one of the best midfielders but one of the best players currently in the game. Modric since his move to Real Madrid has been pivotal to everything that they've achieved and has truly become one of the midfield greats of the modern era.
Published: Mon Jun 12, 2017 03:54 PM IST