Real Madrid won the first-leg 3-0 and therefore gave themselves a comfortable cushion in the second fixture but it still came with a few panic attacks and scares as Los Merengues were finally able to get the job done during the first 45 minutes.
The main question surrounding the starting lineup was whether Danilo or Nacho Fernandez would be starting in place of the injured Dani Carvajal as Zinedine Zidane wasn’t expected to come out with any particular surprises. The starting eleven consisted of:
Keylor Navas, Danilo, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos [C], Marcelo, Carlos Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Karim Benzema
Atletico Madrid –
Saul Nigues (12′)
Antoine Griezmann (16′)
Real Madrid –
As expected, Karim Benzema was chosen to start the match ahead of Alvaro Morata as many people continued questioning Zidane’s choices (including myself). The French forward started off pretty well but wasn’t really given the opportunity to do much damage as the Atletico Madrid players were in full force giving Los Blancos no space to breathe. Suddenly, out of pretty much nowhere, Karim Benzema took matters into his own hands, left THREE Atletico Madrid players behind wondering how he got through them, and gave the ball to Toni Kroos whose shot was saved by Jan Oblak before Isco scored on the rebound. From that moment onwards, Real Madrid were in control and it was all thanks to some Benzema heroics!
After scoring a magnificent hat-trick in the first-leg, Cristiano Ronaldo had all eyes on him and he knew it. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to do anything of note other than a few shots that, in all honesty, he really should have passed to a teammate in those situations. The Portuguese didn’t have one of his better games but he can surely be forgiven after giving Los Blancos that cushion they needed in the first 90 minutes.
Is Luka Modric even human?! The Croatian midfielder caused havoc for Atletico Madrid as they weren’t able to find any way to stop him! Luka Modric was the calm during the storm Atletico came out with and he did everything in his power to keep Real Madrid in control. His ability to take the ball in dangerous positions and take it into completely open space was a joy to watch! A brilliant night for the Croatian.
Every single time he plays, he continues to impress everyone. Given the same instructions that he was given during the first-leg, Isco had the chance to roam around in the middle and he did so perfectly. While Los Merengues were facing problems from the Atletico Madrid forwards, it was Isco who kept finding different ways to move the ball forward and he was even able to get his name on the scoresheet and give Real Madrid the goal they needed to relax a little.
With Real Madrid’s aggregate win against Atletico Madrid, they have successfully booked their place in the UEFA Champions League Final for the third time in four years! This time, they face an extremely tough opposition in Juventus, who were able to beat AS Monaco in the semifinals to get themselves here. I’ll be posting my pre-match article once the game is closer.
Book your calendars for June 3, 2017!