As much as Juventus tried to 'Euro Juventus' the whole thing up Wednesday night's trip to Scandinavia, the adjustments Max Allegri made at halftime were just too much for the Old Lady's European wackiness.
Juventus looked a lot like they had in the previous Champions League encounters over the first half. Their attack was rather drab, their build-up play not exactly the best or most imaginative. But you could tell the switch went off at halftime, and they showed it right away. Juventus used second-half goals from the Beauty and the Beast Combination of Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tévez to beat Malmö 2-0. And, thanks to Atlético Madrid's dismantling of Olympiacos, enter the final group stage game of 2014 all alone in second place.
Not exactly what we envisioned when Juve were struggling to do much of anything all those weeks back in Madrid, now is it?
But Juventus have rebounded, and are actually playing good football for a change compared to the first half of this year's group stage. Instead of lagging for 90 minutes, Allegri was able to adapt, noticing that something needed to be fixed and executing it exactly how they should have. They not only dominated possession in the second half, but dominated the scoring chances as well.
And because of it, Juventus are where they are now. Some in-game adaptation — no matter who it comes from — is quite nice to see, if you ask me.
/nods in agreement/
All they need against Atlético Madrid is one measly point. Although three points would be pretty cool.
Random thoughts and observations
- Seriously, how pretty was Claudio Marchisio's assist on Llorente's goal?
- Seriously, how did Fernando Llorente outrun all of Malmö's defenders on his goal?
- I've been known to say a nice thing or two about Marchisio when he plays really well, and that's not going to change today, people. The assist on the go-ahead goal is the headliner on a very good performance, but this was as active and attack-minded I can remember Marchisio being in a good amount of time. Other than his not-so-great finishing in front of goal, it was one of the best I've seen Marchisio play this season. And even then, it took a couple of absolutely fantastic saves to keep Marchisio off the scoresheet Wednesday night.
He has clearly been one of Juventus' most consistent players the last month or so. And if this new tactical approach by Allegri means a better Marchisio, that's nothing but a good development.
- At times on Wednesday night, Arturo Vidal looked like the Arturo Vidal of old. But in the big picture, he's still struggling to regain any kind of good form this season.
- Speaking of players who looked more like their old selves, Giorgio Chiellini was an absolute rock in defense — especially in the first half when Malmö actually gave the Juventus defense some problems.
- Fifteen starts in all competitions for Carlos Tévez this season, 12 goals scored in those games. He's in such good goal-scoring form that he can absolutely scuff a shot and it will still find the back of the net. Must be nice, Carlitos.
- Although, that goal from Tévez probably should have never happened because of a foul on Álvaro Morata. But based on the kind of night the referee had, I'm not surprised he missed a clearly foul that happened right in front of him.
- Gigi Buffon with shutouts in four of Juventus' last five games. It's not just the offense that is greatly benefiting from Allegri's formation change.
- Just for the record: That pitch was Galatasaray bad, but it was pretty terrible. When you can see the ball bouncing a couple inches off the ground on simple passes, then you know it's not even close to being a good thing.
- Juventus is still undefeated when Simone Padoin starts at left back. Just throwing it out there.
- UEFA Champions League Game Time Thread: Juventus vs. Malmö
- UEFA Champions League Preview: Juventus vs. Malmö — Swedish meatballs
- Carlos Tévez and the 'best form' of his career
- Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon shortlisted for FIFPro World XI
- Juventus 3-0 Lazio: Paul Pogba and Carlos Tévez lead Juventus to victory