A better second half performance
Real Madrid looked leggy as they were in quest for the Dup Decima. Allegri’s Juventus started the game with a fine tempo after pressurising the Madrid players and forcing them to make mistakes.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal might have given them the lead, but then Mandzukic produced a goal for the ages. An overhead kick in the final is a scriptwriter’s dream work. However, as the game unfolded in the second half, Juventus started to lose the grip on the match. Dybala and Higuain starved for quality balls or even link up plays, and the Casemiro goal killed the competition.
Stifling the midfield
The trio of Real Madrid’s midfield played their best game of the season. Casemiro pocketed Dybala in the second half and made vital interceptions and a fine goal to cap off his night. Luka Modric is a genius among men, and he proved it yet again. He started linking up with Carvajal time and time again, and his delicious assist for Ronaldo showed his superiority.
Toni Kroos might be the most composed player this season. His ability to play short and long passes even in dire situations make him a cut above others. He works brilliantly in tandem with Modric and the duo along with Casemiro started to narrow down lanes as soon as Juventus had the ball.
Excellent counter pressing
Someone once said it is not about the first ball you win, but the second ball that follows. Real Madrid adhered to this philosophy, and it worked wonders for them. Every time Real would lose possession; players would start to narrow down Juventus’s passing lanes making it difficult to find a productive pass.
The third goal is a brilliant example of this. When the ball should have been hacked clear by the Juventus backline, they chose to play it out, but the pass to Dybala lacked conviction and Modric pounced upon and made a brilliant run before teeing up Ronaldo. Real Madrid did not press with high intensity but counter pressed as soon as they gave away possession.
Cristiano Ronaldo factor
It is unbelievable how a 32-year old whose speed has declined over the years and has reduced the take-ons considerably would still make such an impact. It was Ronaldo’s night for the taking, and the mercurial Portuguese didn’t disappoint.
He was man marked heavily in the early stages, but a Real quick move saw Benzema pass it to Ronaldo who then passed it to Dani Carvajal and then swooped in the return ball in his own delightful way. His ability to find spaces against the meanest defence has made him the player he is today. He dropped deep at times just to play the little one-two to ease the pressure on the midfielders. He then came up with the goods with a tricky near-post finish after a brilliant run from Modric.
Cristiano looked to devour the night, and was set to add another Champions League hat-trick, but this time in the final. He failed to do so, but a late burst of pace and excellent technique saw him square a delicious cut back to Bale only for Bonucci to clear it away.
Juventus, the chokers
It is astounding how a team that conceded only 3 goals prior to the final would let 4 in one night. Juventus started the game brightly with Dybala and Pjanic linking up plays and pressed Real Madrid’s defenders. Mario Mandzukic’s world-class equaliser should have pumped them up, and they finished the first half on a better note.
Then it all went wrong. Real Madrid started to narrow down the midfield, taking Khedira and Pjanic out of the equation, and Dybala was starved of any kind of services. Alex Sandro and Dani Alves looked to take the baton in their own hands, but couldn’t assert their dominance. Juventus started to look edgy, and their defence was ripped apart even by the simplest of long balls. Allegri’s decision to take off Pjanic and Dybala was another talking point as they were the only two men who looked to make things happen.
Real Madrid was brilliant, but Juventus just could not handle the pressure of the big final and ran out of gas after a good first half display. This showed that Real Madrid was a cut above Juventus due to their experience and better handling of crucial moments.