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Spain leading way in European Cup stakes

Published: Wednesday 13 May 2015, 23.00CET
Already the European Cup’s dominant force, Spain will have the chance to claim their 15th victory in the competition when FC Barcelona take on Juventus in Berlin on 6 June.
Spain leading way in European Cup stakes
Spain will have the chance to strengthen their position as the European Cup’s most dominant country when FC Barcelona play Juventus – although victory for the Serie A champions would take Italy’s trophy count to 13, one less than Spain.

Barcelona reached their first UEFA Champions League final since 2011 by completing a 5-3 aggregate win against FC Bayern München on Tuesday, the German club having claimed five of the Bundesliga’s seven European crowns. Real Madrid CF, who clinched their tenth triumph and Spain’s 14th with victory in the all-Liga decider against Club Atlético de Madrid last season, failed to set up another all-Spanish final though, going down 3-2 overall to Juventus who will therefore hope to lift Italy’s first title since FC Internazionale Milano’s 2010 success.

Spain’s stranglehold on the competition was established early as Real Madrid won the first five editions of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup. The Merengues’ tenth crown last term – secured in the second all-Spanish final – raised Spain’s total to 14, with Barça reigning supreme in 1992, 2006, 2009 and 2011.

Spanish teams have been European Cup runners-up on ten occasions, the same number as Germany and fewer only than Italy, whose sides have lost 14 finals. They have, however, also won 12, and Juventus will look to make it 13 in Berlin on 6 June.

European Cup wins by country
Spain 14 (10 runners-up)
Italy 12 (14 runners-up)
England 12 (7 runners-up)
Germany 7 (10 runners-up)
Netherlands 6 (2 runners-up)
Portugal 4 (5 runners-up)
France 1 (5 runners-up)
Scotland 1 (1 runners-up)
Romania 1 (1 runners-up)
Serbia 1 (1 runners-up)
Greece 0 (1 runners-up)
Belgium 0 (1 runners-up)
Sweden 0 (1 runners-up)

Real Madrid CF 1-1 Juventus

Former Madrid striker Álvaro Morata returned to the Santiago Bernabéu to end the holders’ challenge and take Juve into their first final since 2003.

Morata takes Juve through at Madrid’s expense

Morata takes Juve through at Madrid's expense
Álvaro Morata is mobbed after scoring Juventus’ decisive goal
©Getty Images

 

Álvaro Morata returned to the Santiago Bernabéu to score the goal that took Juventus into a first final since 2003 and ended Real Madrid CF’s hopes of becoming the first side to defend the trophy in the UEFA Champions League era.

Facing a semi-final first-leg deficit, Madrid were on the front foot from the outset and were rewarded midway through the first half as James Rodríguez won a penalty that Cristiano Ronaldo slotted in. However, Juve responded strongly after half-time and ex-Madrid forward Morata fired them level shortly before the hour. Thereafter some determined defending ensured the Italian champions reached their eighth European Cup final, and first since 2003.

Beaten 2-1 in Turin, Madrid – who had been pressed back from the first whistle last week – seized the initiative from the off with Gareth Bale heading narrowly over within the first 40 seconds. Karim Benzema – making his first appearance in a month following a knee injury – showed good control to create space for a shot, only to blaze over before Ronaldo’s deflected free-kick landed on the top of the net.

Although Arturo Vidal’s low effort forced a sprawling Iker Casillas into action for the first time, the main threat continued to come from Carlo Ancelotti’s team, Benzema springing the offside trap. His cross was scrambled clear before Gianluigi Buffon pushed away Bale’s dipping 25m attempt.

With 22 minutes on the clock, the Bianconeri cracked as Giorgio Chiellini was adjudged to have fouled James. Ronaldo had missed a penalty in Saturday’s Liga draw against Valencia CF but held his nerve from the spot this time, clipping the ball over the diving Buffon.

The visiting No1 twice foiled Benzema before the break to keep Massimiliano Allegri’s side in contention, first saving a header before blocking a low strike at the near post. Ronaldo also went close, outpacing the defence but ruffling only the side netting.

Claudio Marchisio and Marcelo both sent shots whistling wide in the early stages of the second period, although now it was Juventus looking to show greater attacking intent. That was borne out as Madrid failed to clear Andrea Pirlo’s free-kick and Paul Pogba’s powerful leap knocked the ball on to Morata, who rifled beyond Casillas.

The onus was immediately back on Madrid and a slick passing move involving James and Marcelo unlocked the away defence; under pressure, Bale volleyed wide. Juve, however, were holding firm and they might have put the tie beyond Madrid as Vidal slipped a pass through to Marchisio; Casillas came to Madrid’s rescue.

James drove centimetres over Buffon’s crossbar before Bale rose to meet Ronaldo’s centre at the far post; again his aim was fractionally too high. Juventus, though, defended with discipline and determination and carried an incisive threat on the counterattack. They passed up another golden opportunity with two minutes left as Fernando Llorente found Pogba inside the box. Casillas palmed the effort away, but Madrid were not spared for long.

 

 

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