The UEFA Champions League Final is set. But there's no El Clásico, baby.
Juventus went to Santiago Bernabéu, stunned Real Madrid and kissed Los Blancos goodbye with a heroic 1-1 draw that sent The Old Lady to Berlin to meet Barcelona for the European Cup trophy.
But the ones who only watched the first half thought the result would be different. Real completely dominated the initial 45 minutes of play, getting into Juve's box with frightening ease. The return of Karim Benzema made the hosts play better, with a taller, stronger presence inside the area. Cristiano Ronaldo was doing his crazy running-shooting-crying stuff and creating plenty of opportunities. Carvajal and Marcelo pulled off dangerous crosses, and it looked like a matter of time before the Whites could find the net.
They did it, but in a ridiculous way. During a nice Ronaldo - James Rodríguez combination, the Colombian attempted a laughable dive that wouldn't be a penalty in any part of the universe. But hey, the referee saw a penalty. He ignored the (rightful) protests of the visitors, and sent Cristiano Ronaldo to the spot. The Portuguese shook away the bad feelings of the PK miss against Valencia last weekend, and sent home the opener with a strong shot.
After the goal, Madrid pressed even more, pinning Juve into their own half and controlling possession of the ball. More and more chances were created, but the goal never came. Still, the feeling among everyone watching was that we were headed into an El Clásico Final on June 6.
And then "The Ex Law" happened. Not a lot minutes into the second half, Álvaro Morata, a former unvalued Real Madrid forward, saw himself open inside the box, and left-footed a beautiful shot far away from the reach of Iker Casillas, tying the match and putting a world of pressure on Madrid's shoulders.
But Real couldn't find the magic to pull off a comeback. Just one more goal and the game would go into extra time. Madrid couldn't score it. An exhausted Benzema was subbed off. Enter Chicharito Hernández, the quarter-final hero, and Madrid had a little more hope. Chance after chance, shot after shot, nothing could find the net of Gianluigi Buffon. Nothing. Ronaldo went from first-half destroyer of worlds to a mere assist man, and he looked lost while his teammates desperately tried to extend their season.
They couldn't. And the Italian Heros did it again. It's Juve vs Barça in Berlin on June 6. Sorry, Madrid, but there's no place for you.