CARDIFF: Juventus coach Max Allegri regretted what might have been after seeing his Juventus overtaken in the second half by Real Madrid in the Champions League showdown in the Millennium Stadium writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The newly recrowned record Italian champions edged the first half with their energetic hustling which set the European champions on the back foot from the first minutes.

Allegri explained afterwards that he planned, for an Italian side, an out-of-character instant assault in the hope of gaining a lead which Bonucci, Chiellini and Co could successfully defend in the second half.

Cristiano Ronaldo had other ideas. His early strike upset Allegri’s best-laid plans and, though Juve levelled magnificently through Mario Mandzukic, they were ‘only’ on terms at half-time and vulnerable to everything Madrid then threw at them.

Allegri said: “It’s been an extraordinary season because we won the Italian league and cup and reached the final of the Champions League. But, though we played beautifully in the first half, in the second half Real Madrid put their foot on the accelerator and we sat back for too long.

“We defended for 15 minutes and then football can be a nightmare. Pjanic had a shot which was deflected away whereas Casemiro’s shot was deflected into goal.

“The only criticism I have of my boys was that after conceding the second goal we should have stayed in the game mentally to try to find solutions. We weren’t able to do it and so we lost.”

Allegri did not consider this defeat marked the end of an era for Juventus and their present generation of veteran stars.

Room for improvement

He said: “Gigi Buffon will still be Juventus goalkeeper next season and Andrea Barzagli will be with the team for another year at least and they have a lot still to give. The club knows we can still improve some more if we want to reach a higher level.

“The great thing about football is it always gives you the chance to try again.”

Allegri explained how he had hoped to take Madrid by surprise.

He said: “At the start we were set up to try to score and then maybe we would have to defend in the second part of the game. We were not able to do that. Against Barcelona, in the quarter-finals, we gained a two-goal lead but tonight we were not able to do it.

“If we had finished the first half in the lead it would have been a different match but Real Madrid have players of great ability and who have played many finals while Juventus are still growing.

“When they increased the pressure we were not able to resist and when you play against such strong teams you have to be extremely good in defence. We hoped to gain an advantage early in the game. We did not do that and then Pjanic injured his knee and had to be substituted and after that we conceded two goals in quick succession were unable to react.

“This is football. It’s a beautiful game precisely because these things can happen. Of course it wasn’t so beautiful for us in the end.”

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