Real Madrid face tough Juventus challenge in Champions League
Madrid, May 4: Spanish football powerhouse Real Madrid travel to the Italian city of Turin on Monday in a significant step forward in their Champions League title defence.
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No side has successfully defended the Champions League trophy and Real Madrid have a difficult task ahead of them when they face newly-crowned Italian champions Juventus in the first leg of the two-legged semi-final on Tuesday.
Juventus will be in good spirits after confirming their title on Saturday and have Spanish strikers Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Morata ready to create problems for Real Madrid.
Morata joined Juventus from Real Madrid last summer after struggling to win a regular first team place under Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. The Spanish international has made it clear he won't be feeling sentimental about his former club.
The Italians will have fond memories of their semi-final triumph over Madrid in 2003.
However, if Juventus are on a high, Real Madrid also have reasons for being confident after securing a thrilling 3-2 win in Sevilla on Saturday.
Ancelotti has a formidable squad, despite the absence of injured midfielder Luka Modric, to choose from. Striker Karim Benzema is on his way to recovering full fitness from a knee injury.
Winger Gareth Bale is likely to return to the starting 11 in Turin, while defender Sergio Ramos can be deployed in a midfield role.
Apart from these minor changes, there will be few surprises in the Madrid side with defender Marcelo as left back and Dani Carvajal as right back, Pepe and Rafael Varene in central defence, Ramos, Tony Kroos and James Rodriguez in midfield and Bale, Ronaldo and Javier Hernandez leading the attack.
Juventus is expected to adopt a defensive strategy, so the emphasis will be on Real Madrid to attack and seize the initiative ahead of their second leg home match.