The biggest thing we learned in the first leg of these two semi-finals matchups is that Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo are the two best players in the world. Messi had two goals (one of which was absolute magic) and an assist in Barcelona’s 3-0 win against Bayern while Ronaldo scored Real Madrid’s lone goal in their 1-2 defeat to Juventus. The two cushioned their lead as the top two all-time Champions League scoring leaders, with Messi on top with 77, and Ronaldo on his heels with 76.
The story of the second of the two semi-finals was Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez going up against the backline of Jerome Boatang, Rafinha and Mehdi Benatia. The backline of Bayern bended but did not break all the way until the ’77 minute wen Messi got his first. Manuel Neuer did an incredible job in goal keeping the away side in the match; however, Messi and Co. proved to ultimately too much.
The first semi-finals featured Juventus hosting Real Madrid in Turin. In the last 7 meetings between the two sides in Turin, Juventushad won 5 and only lost once. Moreover, Juventus was undefeated at home in European competition this season going into the match … and yet they were still considered the underdog by many.
Alvaro Morata gave Juventus a dream start when he scored against his former club in the opening minutes. Ronaldo answered about 20 minutes later with a punctuating header after a nice buildup through midfield for Madrid. 10 minutes into the second half, Carlos Tevez was hauled down by Madrid defender Dani Carvajal with a rash tackle, resulting in an ensuing penalty and the eventual game winner by Tevez.
The stars came out and shined in the first leg. Madrid still has lots of work left to do at home next week, as a 1-0 win would put them through the finals. While Barcelona feels pretty comfortable with their 3 goal cushion heading into the second leg.
I anticipate the two Spanish powers meeting the Champions League finals when all is said and done, which will give us a dream final of Ronaldo vs. Messi.