Talk about a missed opportunity.
Juventus dominated the possession. Juventus dominated the scoring chances. Juventus got to play nearly two-thirds of the second half with a man advantage after Enzo Pérez was shown a second yellow card. Heck, they were even playing up two after Ezequiel Garay got a Paul Pogba boot right in the face.
They just could get the one thing they needed the most.
No goals, no extra home game in the Europa League final in two weeks. Juventus needed a goal, but after nearly 100 minutes on Thursday night, they never got it. They had plenty of chances to do so, they just couldn't finish a single shot to put the aggregate score on level terms and therefore have the chance to make it to the final in their very own stadium.
A lot of chances. But not one found the back of the net.
Were Juventus the better side over two legs? Yeah, I feel pretty safe in saying they were. It's not like Benfica were totally terrible, though. They're in the Europa League final for the second straight season. They're a team, much like Juventus, that shouldn't be in the Europa League to begin with. Benfica are good, really good. It's not like they don't deserve to be in the final, as much as Antonio Conte might disagree with that statement.
But when it mattered most, Juventus didn't do the most important thing they needed to on Thursday night. They needed a goal and didn't get it. That's that.
We can shout about tactics, we can shout about formations all we want. When push came to shove, though, Juventus were set up as they usually are, created more than enough scoring opportunities, and didn't make Benfica pay.
I'm a simple kind of guy and that's my simple explanation.
Random thoughts and observations
- There's a whole lot of Antonio Conte-related rage on the interwebs right now. It's not exactly that hard to find it. Just go ahead search for it. Is it deserved? Maybe some of it. He's the manager and Juve had aspirations of playing the Europa League final in their own stadium, so of course he is going to hear about it — good or bad. He's a very good manager, but not the perfect manager. He's still learning how to compete on the European stage just like a lot of other people are with his kind of experience level.
Just remember this: This is Conte's second year as a manager in Europe. He's already conquered Italy (almost) three times over, but obviously doing things on the bigger, European stage aren't coming as quickly as domestically.
- With that said, Conte blasting referee Mark Clattenberg and saying Benfica didn't deserve to go through right after the final whistle might not have been the right way to go about things when looking back on how things went. I can understand he's got emotions running high after such a crazy game, but that probably wasn't the best thing to do right out of the shoot.
- We might not be here if Luisao didn't have a goal-line clearance in the second half. Like I said, the chances were there...
- We might not be here if Stephan Lichtsteiner was able to control that Claudio Marchisio cross and put something on target.
- Nineteen total shots, seven on goals. So many chances. So many chances.
- I do hope this result serves as a realization that Juventus need something more to truly compete on the European stage. Signing somebody like Carlos Tévez was a really good first step, but Juve aren't the total package just yet. They were the trendy sleeper to do things in the Champions League, then became the overwhelming favorites to win the Europa League. But they need more. And as great as it is to be the top dog in Italy the past three years, Juve can't settle for just that.
- On a positive note because all of this other stuff can be considered doom and gloom at this point: It was really nice to see Paul Pogba doing Paul Pogba things again.
- Mirko Vucinic getting sent off without playing a second is quite...interesting.
- So, do we still think Juventus didn't care about the Europa League?
- One request: Just go out and throttle Atalanta on Monday night. I can't think of a better way to kick off a Scudetto party in front of the Juventus Stadium crowd.
- UEFA Europa League Game Time Thread: Juventus vs. Benfica, Leg 2
- UEFA Europa League: Juventus vs. Benfica, Leg 2 — You choose the starting lineup
- UEFA Europa League Preview: Juventus vs. Benfica, Leg 2 — Winning is the only thing that matters
- Is Andrea Pirlo another reason for Antonio Conte to use the 3-5-2?
- Juventus 3 - Sassuolo 1: Initial reaction and random observations