Perhaps when Real Madrid CF decided to
bring in Vanderlei Luxemburgo from Santos FC to replace Mariano García
Remón as coach in December, they had tonight's UEFA Champions League
meeting with Juventus FC on their minds.
Since making their debut in the competition in 1995/96, and barring the
1996/97 edition (the only year they failed to qualify), Madrid have been
crowned champions on three occasions and at worst, bowed out at the
quarter-final stage. To fail to make the last eight, for those in the
capital, would be seen as a total disaster and a decent win from
tonight's game practically a necessity. Tonight Madrid may not have been
rewarded with the goals their inventiveness deserved, but Luxemburgo's
side will travel to Turin with confidence high after an enthralling
Both Luxemburgo and Juve coach Fabio Capello employed 4-4-2 formations
at the Santiago Bernabéu. Madrid, long since departed from the midfield
double-pivot pairing, used a rhombus shape with David Beckham returning
to his preferred right-wing slot and new recruit Thomas Gravesen adding
cover for the back four. In contrast, Capello plays a pivot with Manuele
Blasi and Emerson holding the centre of the park. In recent weeks,
however, he has modified his formation to 3-5-2, with three central
The match started as expected with both teams playing with great
enthusiasm but with little flowing football during the opening minutes.
Emerson shot wildly over on four minutes, failing to spot Alessandro Del
Piero who had lost his marker and was perfectly positioned in the area.
The game took a different tone when Madrid lost right-back Míchel
Salgado to a knee injury in the eighth minute. Luxemburgo, instead of
fielding Francisco Pavón, surprisingly brought on left-footed defender
Raúl Bravo to take his place and keep tabs on Del Piero and Zlatan
Juventus's central pair of Lilian Thuram and Fabio Cannavaro stuck tight
to frontrunners Raúl González and Ronaldo, but the Italian side did
leave gaps and Raúl was unlucky to smash Roberto Carlos's sweeping
centre against the bar on 24 minutes. Nor did the visitors pick up Iván
Helguera from a free-kick set-piece seven minutes later. The centre-back
was left free to head Madrid into the lead.
Heated second half
Capello's side were dealt another blow when Pavel Nedved was carried off
with concussion after clashing heads with Raúl Bravo towards the end of
the second half. With a slender lead, Madrid managed to dominate during
the second half. More tense moments ensued with Raúl cueing the ball
over the bar after Gianluigi Buffon had denied Zinedine Zidane on 56
minutes. In a chaotic and heated last 45 minutes, the ball even burst at
one point, after ending on the receiving end of Roberto Carlos's studs.
Hard to call
Capello swapped Blasi for Alessio Tacchinardi on 67 minutes, and
Luxemburgo also made a switch, changing Ronaldo for Michael Owen ten
minutes later. But the home side remained in control. Whether a 1-0 is
enough to take to the Delle Alpi is hard to say. In 1996, Juve won 2-0
in Turin with Zidane in their side to advance, while in 2003, the
Italian side scored a 3-1 win to eliminate the holders.