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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Champions League: Spoils Shared in Madrid Derby, Juve Pip Monaco

Bloodied Mario Mandzukic. Photo - The Guardian

It was bloody, tense, edgy, tight but barren at the end as the 8th Madrid derby of the season ended with nothing to separate two protagonists, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.

The duo who clashed in the final of last year’s UEFA Champions League final which Real won 4-1 at extra time, met at the Vicente Calderon for the first leg of their quarterfinal tie.

It was the 8th Madrid derby of the season and for Real, it ended the way the past 8 have; winless against their rivals. Carlo Ancelloti’s men produced a far better performance than they have been in those eight games. However, there was one huge wall in the Atleti defence that proved impenetrable to Los Blancos from as early as the fourth minute; Slovenian keeper Jan Oblak.

Oblak first denied Gareth Bale from scoring Real’s first goal at the Vicente Calderon in their last four visits. He was equal to the task, punching, parrying, and collecting every shot aimed at him as the visitors dominated the opening half. He thwarted Cristiano Ronaldo and twice denied James Rodriguez before the interval.

The early minutes of the second half saw Atletico forward Mario Mandzukic getting entangled on a battle that left him bloodied as he got elbowed by Sergio Ramos before Dani Carvajal allegedly tried to bite the Croat’s shoulder.

On the football side, Oblak came out on top saving a Toni Kroos effort while Godin came close to beating Iker Casillas on the other end. Mario Suarez and Marcelo got in the referee’s book meaning they will miss the return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu in 8 days.

The match ended with Diego Simeone’s side failing to score versus their rivals for the first time in 9 games while Real failed to beat their rivals for the 7th time since their Champions League final triump.

It was a fairly entertaining derby for the neutrals and one that laid testament to the face that the Madrid derby is increasingly reestablishing itself as one of the world’s best, thanks to the reemergence of Atletico as a La Liga top dog.

In Turin, Arturo Vidal’s second half penalty ensured Juventus will take a slim advantage to France next week having beaten visiting Monaco 1-0. Monaco mustered more shots at Gianluigi Buffon’s goal (16) but only 4 were on target, one less than Juve’s efforts at the other end.

Like the Madrid derby, Monaco and Juventus lacked cutting edge with the match poised at 0-0 until the 57th minute when Arturo Vidal beat Danijel Subasic from the spot, Ricardo Carvalho having fouled Alvaro Morata in the box.

That proved to be the only goal of the night as Massimiliano Allegri’s men ensured the tie is in their favor heading into the return leg at Stade Louis II.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!