The two giants of European football, Real Madrid CF and Juventus FC have set up a historic meet as they take on each other in the final of the UEFA Champions League 2016-17 in Cardiff on June 3.While Real Madrid are on a mission to become the first club in the Champions League era to successfully defend their title, Juventus will want the glory after a 20-year wait despite reaching the final in 2003 and 2015.WATCH VIDEOWhile the final is sure to be exciting, the two semi-finals weren’t any less. Here’s a look at the five key points from the blockbuster Champions League semi-finals.CRISTIANO RONALDO HAT-TRICK:Coming from the high of scoring five goals against Bayern Munich across the two legs of the quarter-finals, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a scintillating hat-trick against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the semi-final at the Santiago Bernabeu. It was this hat-trick that proved crucial for Real when they lost to Atletico 2-1 in the second leg but won the tie 4-2 on aggregate.OLD IS GOLD – GIANLUIGI BUFFON:The 39-year-old Italian goalkeeper Buffon is only getting better with age. He’s the last bit of the strong Juventus wall that have conceded only thrice in the entire Champions League campaign this season. His agility at this age and his crucial saves have kept Juventus safe.ATLETICO MADRID’S FIGHTING SPIRIT:Atletico Madrid’s coach Diego Simeone has made the less-fancied Madrid club a title challenger in La Liga and it is their ability to keep going till the final whistle which has made this team so endearing. Against Real Madrid in the second leg of the semi-final, they had a tough task of overhauling a 3-0 first leg deficit, yet they had enough energy and zeal to fight till the end.advertisementDANI ALVES:Dani Alves has been Juventus’ trump card this season. His pace, skillful work on the wings and accurate passing has been the key to Juventus’ attack. From his pin-point assists to Gonzalo Higuain in the first leg of the semi-final against AS Monaco to his goal in the second leg, he has been breathtaking.THE BBC OF JUVENTUS – BONUCCI, BARZAGLI AND CHIELLINI:Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini have been as firm for Juventus as the Real Madrid BBC trio of Bale, Benzema and Cristiano. They have been solid, ever-present and rearing to keep the Juventus wall unbreached.The final between Real Madrid and Juventus will surely be a cracker. It is a fight between the two teams that boast of solidity in the extreme sides of the pitch. While Real Madrid get going with their unstoppable attack, Juventus have an extremely compact defence that even stopped FC Barcelona in their backyard.On June 3, European football will either see the triumph of its most potent attack or their strongest wall of defence, and it is no thing to miss!
By Amanpreet Singh Jakarta, Sep 2 (PTI) Achievements over the past two weeks, in the world’s second biggest multi-sport event, matched India’s aspirations and set the country on a road that appears far more promising than the path it has been on for decades. The best-ever medal haul at the 2018 Asian Games is a leap forward for India sport after the Commonwealth Games medal spurt. In pursuit for success in the sporting arena and creating a niche for itself, India never had it so good in the continental showpiece that is considered next only to the Olympic Games. Even as the medallists come back with a feeling of accomplishment from Jakarta and Palembang, the surge in podium finishes could trigger new passion for Olympic sports in a country so obsessed with cricket. From teenager Saurabh Chaudhary to 60-year-old Pranab Bardhan, an assortment of athletes combined to produce a top show even as the country endured shocking results in kabaddi and hockey. With 15 gold, 24 silver and 30 bronze, India’s medal tally stood at 69, a step up from Incheon four years ago when they won 65. India equalled the 15-gold tally of the 1951 inaugural Games but the country had never won 24 silvers before. Overall, India maintained its top-10 rank by finishing eighth yet again. Every multi-sporting event has witnessed controversies and it was no different this time too. However, once the action began, it was only the athletes and their performances that took centre stage. The track and field remained the most productive area for India as seven of the 15 gold came from the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.advertisement It was the burly Tejinder Pal Singh Toor, who delivered the first athletics gold with a record-breaking throw of 20.75m and later 12-toed Swapna Barman entered the history books by becoming the country’s first heptathlete to grab a yellow metal at the Games. Dutee Chand returned to the track with a bang. Running as if there was no tomorrow, she ended up blazing the track for two silver medals, the one in 100m being India’s first in 20 years. If it was not for superior Africa-origin athletes, representing countries such as Qatar and Bahrain on track, India’s gold count would have been bigger. It was purely for this reason that Hima Das had to be content with a silver in the 200m as she ran alongside Nigerian-born Salwa Eid Naser. Neeraj Chopra expectedly achieved a super result by becoming the first Indian to win a gold in javelin throw and sprinters Manjit Singh and Jinson Johnson too changed a few statistics with their courageous show. India’s badminton queens Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu continued to deliver the goods and ensured that the country’s 36-year-old wait for an individual medal ends. Sindhu’s silver and Saina’s bronze were among the highlights of India’s campaign along with the table tennis players’ two historic bronze in team events. Manika Batra was without doubt the biggest star of India’s CWG show at the Gold Coast but in Jakarta, winning two bronze in team events by competing against powerhouses like China and Japan is no mean feat. Batra, Sharath Kamal, G Sathian and Harmeet Desai deserve an applause for their effort. In Palembang, 16-year-old Chaudhary and 15-year old Shardul Vihan showed that India has no dearth of talent even as the other youngsters Manu Bhaker and Anish Bhanwala must be disappointed for not winning a medal. Saurabh was one of the two gold medallists along with Rani Sarnobat while Shardul won a silver. Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat performed as if they owned the mat, winning gold medals with sheer domination. But veteran Sushil Kumar and Salshi Malik suffered disappointments. While there were many moments to rejoice, India’s performance in kabaddi and hockey disappointed the fans. Bridge buddies Bardhan and Shibnath Dey Sarkar won gold in men’s pairs and urged fans to not equate their sport with gambling, saying it’s a game of intellect. A gritty Amit Panghal ensured that a medal — gold — came from the boxing arena too, the Army man swelling India’s tally with a stunning win over reigning Olympic champion on the last penultimate day of the competition. The recurve archers disappointed with their lacklustre show but their compound teammates made sure that the contingent does nor return empty-handed. In kabaddi, Iran jolted India twice by taking both and men’s and women’s top prize. It came as a rude shock as India went into the Games as the continent’s powerhouse, having all nine gold medals in the past.advertisement The men’s and women’s hockey teams being the top-ranked in Asia were also expected to stand on top of the podium but a silver and bronze was all they could manage. By scoring more than 70 goals in the pool games, India’s men’s hockey team looked unstoppable before they were halted by Malaysia. The defence choked in the crucial last two minutes and they eventually lost it in sudden death. The team took a bronze by beating Pakistan. The women’s team lost in the final to Japan, who claimed both the gold medals. The positives far outweigh the disappointments in few events, and the many firsts and many national records that were broken during the Games provide hope for a bright future. PTI AT AH