The Champions League, the most prestigious club competition in the world where the top teams show how it’s done and the pretenders, well, get knocked out. From the nervous group stages, the importance of finishing 1st to avoid the ‘big boys’ Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, PSG…all play on the teamss mind because there is nothing worse than seeing your club pinned up against one of them.
In Juventus’ case they finished second behind Manchester City in group D and were unluckily matched up against Bayern Munich. When we saw the draw why did we immediately think “oh poor Juventus”, ‘poor Juventus’ last years runners up?, lost to Barcelona, that ‘poor Juventus’ who knocked out Real Madrid at the Bernabeu?, yes them. So what did ‘that’ Juventus do when they faced Bayern Munich…
1st Leg Juventus Stadium
Juventus Stadium is in my opinion one of the worlds best and most intimidating football grounds. If it’s enough for the opponent to feel shaken, they are versing the historic, accomplished Juventus, or its the hostile tifosi, curva with their whistling ,chanting for 90 minutes or it’s the hunger, persistence, possession playing football they play it will not be easy for any away team to visit this ground.
In saying that, this match up Juventus and Bayern, was imperative to show how to play and what is the meaning of the Champions League.
Juventus played with a full strength squad, Bayern were hurt with injuries to defenders and had to play with replacements….
“0-0 is a very good result” – Allegri. When the media and fans heard Allegri say that in the presser what were we to imagine…a very organised defensive line, deep line, waste time, long balls, patient, sit back, let them play until…….they score a goal? Yes.
Juventus had no need to sit back and wait, Juventus showed in my opinion way too much respect towards Bayern. Juventus have the quality, the team and most importantly the spirit to finish top teams off and push them. So why did they play the way they this first 45 minutes?
As a huge fan of Juventus it was really hard to watch, we could hear the angst of the fans in the stadium, frustration, me watching and screaming “push up!”, “attack!” and we/i got nothing.
Juventus at times did get ‘some’ chances in, but in reality, it was defend and defend with your life because Bayern came out firing. First Vidal’s edge of the box volley saved by Buffon, Muller’s bad touch meters from goal, crosses defended by Bonucci, Barzagli and Bonucci coping with scoring machine Lewandowski, Evra v Robben, Litch/Cuadrado v Douglas Costa, it was only a matter of time before Juventus would somehow crack and Bayern were to finally put the ball in the back of the net and get that crucial away goal they were ever so patiently waiting for.
43′ Muller scores for Bayern Munich.
There is nothing worse than conceding a goal 2 minutes from half time. It hurts the psyche of the team, “2 minutes to hold on”, unlucky rebound off Barzagli in the 6 yard box falls to the feet of Thomas Muller and Bayern are 1-0 to the good entering half time.
Juventus began the second half much more promising showing glimpses of their real quality and what they can bring to the table. Pressuring, winning free-kicks aided by the entrance of Hernanes (Marchisio off) but, 55′ Robben scores and makes it 2-0.
Many would have thought the game would be over, 2 away goals but, we the fans know, Juventus do not give up, “Fino alla fine”. Juventus woke up and attacked. 63′ Dybala makes it 2-1 sliding the ball pass Neur, game on.
Allegri then changed the system. He took off Khedira and put on Sturaro, what a substitution equally with Hernanes. He has had a very quiet season after coming in. He silenced many people with his performance. Coming on for Marchisio in a UCL tie is not easy for anyone, alongside Sturaro. They showed how substitutes should come on and why they are game changers.
Juventus played their hearts out, leaving Bayern paying, chasing and looking weak. The pressure they were under unlocked space for Morata on the left of the box to cut a header towards goal, Sturaro wrestling with Kimmich, sticking out his foot, scoring past Neur, 2-2.
15′ left of the game and Juventus should have somehow won the game with the way they were playing. Their fighting spirit after going 2-0 down to come back 2-2 with 17′ to go was very admirable. How many teams can push Bayern Munich?
Juventus fans, their curva were beautiful, their chants and the noise they made gave me goosebumps. Firstly, the stadium choreography, the tifo, the chanting, aided Juventus to get the result they deserved.
Performance by Bonucci was very admirable, he alongside Barzagli coped with Lewandowski very well and made his night a frustrating one. Guardiola on Bonucci said “one of my all-time favourite players”
At full-time it must have hurt Allegri to see his tactics be opened. Sitting back for that long against Bayern, well i think he learnt his lesson. The second leg will be something very special. Juventus need to go to Munich and get a result somehow.
Bayern receive Juventus at Allianz Arena with 2 away goals, Juventus have a lot to do. On a positive note, Bayern do get back defenders, like Javier Martinez which in turn would again strengthen their defence. In Juventus’ case, they hope to now and in the next 2 weeks to not get any injuries.
This fixture will be mouthwatering. We all saw the last 30 minutes and saw how mentally strong Juventus are and what their young squad filled with heart and passion are capable of. We expect the game to very open, I do not expect Guardiola to sit back and hold his lead, he saw and must have been very nervous watching his team be hit wave after wave of the Juventus attack. These 2 sides have the making to light up the stage, only 1 team on the night has to play like they want this more than the other. So who, Juventus or Bayern Munich? Is it a failure for either of these two teams to be knocked out so early of the competition? That is the beauty the Champions League it leaves no casualties. You win or go home.