Real Madrid look to overturn 2-1 first leg deficit against Juventus in Champions League
Madrid, May 12 (IANS) Real Madrid play the most important 90 minutes of their season on Wednesday night when they entertain Juventus in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, knowing that the result will either make or break their campaign. This clash is a must-win as Real look to become the first team to defend their Champions League crown.
A failure to overturn the 1-2 defeat they suffered against the Italian side in Turin a week ago would mean Real will fail to qualify for the final of the Champions League and would be almost certain to end the season in disappointment, reports Xinhua.
Real's 2-2 draw at home against Valencia, despite a heroic second half fightback, means they are now four points behind FC Barcelona in the La Liga with just two matches left to play and it would be a massive shock if Barcelona let that lead slip.
While Real did defeat Sevilla to win the European Supercup in August and lifted the World Club Championship in December, that would be scant consolation for failure to win either League, Cup or Champions League and almost certainly mean the end of Carlo Ancelotti's reign as coach at the club.
The game will start with Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas under the spotlight after the former captain appeared to react to some unjust boos and whistles he received from the fans. Also, winger Gareth Bale is under extra pressure after his agent accused other players of not passing the ball to him.
Midfielder Toni Kroos should be ready to start after being forced out of Saturday's game following a bad fall and Karim Benzema has recovered from his knee injury, although whether or not he will be in a condition to start is a moot point.
The presence of former Real striker Alvaro Morata in the Juventus side adds an extra dimension to the clash. Morata was sold to the Italian Serie A champions last summer after being frustrated at the lack of first-team opportunities. He scored the opening goal a week ago and produced a fine display; should he give a repeat performance, it would not reflect well on either Ancelotti or Madrid president Florentino Perez.
Depending on Barcelona's away match result against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, there could be an all-Spanish final to the Champions League and whatever happens in Germany, there will be a packed house at the Bernabeu.
The question for Real is: will it be the road to Berlin or the end of their season?