Juve is now where it deserves to be.
~ Alvaro Morata
The kid from Madrid puts a dagger into the heart of his former club and sends Juventus back to the Champions League final. Real played well but wasted too many chances. The fans are blaming Gareth Bale, who had the best chances but couldn’t put them away. This year’s Real Madrid never quite seemed to have enough to beat the best teams. They were never fully fit and never quite ready. Watching a player from their Youth Academy end their dream of the 11th Champions League title was difficult for a club with such high expectations. Now, the manager who brought their team the long awaited 10th title may have to fall on his sword and leave the club.
Juventus on the other hand feel that they are a team of destiny. “It seemed like destiny, but it really did go the way we hoped,” said Gianluigi Buffon. The team played with a sense of destiny. It’s a group of veterans, also-rans, and rejects who were are not quite done winning. The starting 11 average age is
Buffon (37) ; Lichtsteiner (31), Bonucci (28), Chiellini (30), Evra (33); Pirlo (35); Marchisio (29), Pogba (22); Vidal (27); Tevez (31), Morata (22).
Average age is 30 years old, which is like 50 in soccer years. So the old men from the Old Lady take down the Galacticos.
You can only beat Barcelona when you take the ball away from them. When they have the ball they are too strong.
~ Pep Guardiola, 12 May 2015
Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola is vastly different from the Jupp Heynckes team that won the Champions League Final in 2013. Just two years ago, Bayern was thrashing Barcelona. It was a different Barcelona that lacked the strength provided by Luis Suarez. It was the aging, creaky Barcelona that Xavi and Iniesta still led. Pep was already gone. Now, Barcelona looks unstoppable. They are as good as the best team Pep assembled. So the question is whether or not Pep should try to re-create a German version of his greatest Barcelona teams or create something different, that’s maybe better.
This particular Bayern showed a lot of courage and heart in the return leg. They were dynamic, pressing, and creative, but still were exposed defensively by arguably the best front three ever assembled. Pep’s Bayern pressed and did an admirable job of keeping possession, and, despite winning the match, lost the tie and are now out of the Champions League.
After last night, if Bayern Munich is going to try to become Bavarian Barcelona, it’s time to rebuild. Personally, I think they should look to build on the strength they already have. Pep’s going to get it right. It will be interesting to see where he and Bayern land.
The players are heroes, they are heroes to me. I can’t speak highly enough of their performance tonight and they will go down in the history books of the club as the team who beat probably the best team in the world.
~ Neil Lennon, 8 November 2012
Celtic 2 – 1 Barcelona
Granted it was just the group stages, but it was still as big as Lennon says if Celtic make it to the knock-out round.
We were heavenly, world class. This was Ajax at their best.
~ Frank de Boer, 22 November 1995
Ajax and Real Madrid have not been on equal footing for a while, but in 1995, Ajax was at the top of the Club world. In their Champions League title defense during the 1995 – 1996 season, Ajax stormed to a 2-0 win over Real Madrid. Though they eventually fell to Juventus in the Final, this was one of their best performances in the Champions League. The two teams play again tomorrow in the group stages.
Check out some video on Uefa‘s site, including a cameo of a baby-faced Raul!