Atletico Madrid vs Juventus Match Analysis: Five talking points
Atletico Madrid vs Juventus Match Analysis: 5 talking points
The Old Lady have a Herculean task in the second leg, if they are to overturn the 2-0 deficit they suffered in the hands of Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Madrid did not have a happy ending, as his team was defeated by a side who played with purpose and deservedly got their reward.
The tie promised to be a mouth watering one as two disciplined teams with well-structured backlines faced off; and with stars like Ronaldo, Griezmann, Dybala, and Costa present, many anticipated the possibility of these attackers breaking their opponents defenses.
Juventus entered the match with the better form of the two sides. Sitting pretty at the top of the Seria A table, thirteen (13) points clear while Atletico Madrid’s struggles in La Liga this season are well documented.
Ronaldo tested Oblak with the first real chance of the match with a powerful freekick from 30 yards out.
Leonardo Bonucci then sent a header over from a promising position, before Thomas Partey sent a low drive that Szczesny stopped.
In the 27th minute, a drama ensued as Diego Costa went to ground in the box and the referee blew his whistle for a penalty. However, after reviewing the event, a freekick was given instead as Mattia De Sciglio’s minimal contact with Costa occured outside the box. The first half was well contested and both teams were evenly matched at half-time.
In the second half, Juventus started well initially, but soon lost their grip on the game. Atletico Madrid started to dominate the game and five minutes into the second half Costa was sent through on goal, beating Bonucci for pace but could only send his shot wide after being one-on-one with Szczesny.
Three minutes later, Antoinne Griezmann, who was dangerous whenever he held the ball attempted a lob over Szczesny, but the Polish goalkeeper got finger tips to the ball and before hitting the crossbar.
Simeone decided to take out Costa and bring on Morata, while Lemar was introduced for Partey and few seconds later, Morata put the ball in the net. VAR was called to action after protests and the referee ruled the goal out because Morata pushed Chiellini before getting his header away.
Atletico Madrid continued to carve the better chances and in the 78th minute, a cornerkick came in, which was not properly cleared, and Giminez sent a shot into the net.
Celebrations for the first goal had barely ceased when the second goal entered. This time, Giminez’s centre back partner Godin was the recipient of a poor clearance by Juventus in the box and he squeezed in the second goal.
Atletico Madrid vs Juventus Match Analysis: Five talking points
1. Simeone outwits Allegri:
Diego Simeone setup his team with a classic 4-4-2 and while Juventus played 4-3-3, it was more like a 4-2-1-3, because of Dybala’s knack to play behind the striker. This eventually proved fatal for Juve, as they were outnumbered in midfield. In the absence of Khedira, the midfield was left flat at times with only Pjanic and Matuidi, the former who prefers to play as a box-to-box midfielder.
Also, after Diego Costa’s missed chance and Griezmann’s lob, Simeone sensed that the gold he sought was not far away, and he made two changes in quick succession. In- Morata, out- Costa; in- Lemar, out- Morata. Soon after coming in, Lemar found Felipe Luis on the left who sent a cross from which Morata headed into the net. Though the goal was cancelled, the plan there on was clear, find Morata’s head. This plan was effective and Allegri will go home knowing his opposite number did a better job on the night.
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2. Godin and Giminez show they can do more than defend:
Diego Godin and Jose Giminez were tasked with preventing Juventus’ talented forward line from finding a way through. They did this admirably. Mandzukic and Bentancur could as well have been out of the field at some point and no one would have noticed.
The Uruguayan duo then decided to add some spice to their display by scoring two goals Chicharito would be proud of. Not often do you see two centre backs score in one match. Kudos!
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3. Juve’s defense uncharacteristically sloppy:
In the first half, I wondered if Atletico Madrid would find a way past Juventus defense line, because every ball that came from cornerkicks and crosses was comfortably dealt with.
However, in the second half, after Diego Costa’s run to go one-on-one with Szczesny, they seemed shaky. Alvaro Morata was getting the better of Bonucci and Chiellini in the air, and their failure to clear their lines eventually proved costly.
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4. Ronaldo’s effort faultless, support needed:
CR7 was at it again, taking the game to Atletico Madrid at any given opportunity. His freekick just 10 minutes in sent a strong message, and at a point, he even showed his palm to Atletico Madrid fans, signifying that he has won five (5) Champions League trophies. While he looked dangerous whenever he got on the ball, he lacked the supply he needed. Creativity was lacking for Juve, as Dybala and Pjanic failed to fully get into the game.
Juventus night was summed up when Ronaldo’s late header went wide from a promising position.
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5. Juventus have a mountain to climb:
Overturning a two-goal deficit is difficult, but overturning a two-goal deficit against a team like Atletico is almost unimaginable.
Discipline, defensive doggedness are some of the characteristics of the team from Madrid.
However, if any team can pull it off, it is Juventus; if anybody can muster the impossible it Ronaldo.
Allegri must set-up his team for the return leg with a positive attitude and approach to the game. Anything is possible!
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Key Opta Facts:
– The last five times Juventus have lost a Champions League first-leg tie of a knockout stage in European competitions, they have been eliminated.
– Juventus have lost two consecutive games in a single Champions League campaign for the first time since October 2014 (v Atletico Madrid and Olympiacos).
– Juventus have failed to score in a Champions League last-16 game for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign (0-1 v Chelsea).
– Atletico Madrid are the only side Juventus have faced at least three times against without finding the net.
– Each of Juventus’ last four Champions League defeats with a two-plus goals margin was against Spanish opponents.
– Leonardo Bonucci played the 500th game of his club career.