The Lyon gameplan was pretty simple to figure out 10 minutes into: Man-mark Andrea Pirlo in an attempt to take him away and have somebody else in a Juventus jersey try and beat you. It's something that a number of teams have tried to do, but few actually completely accomplished like they set out to.
As Pirlo was pretty much accompanied around the field by Steed Malbranque, you could see Juventus trying to do something else to generate offense, but not much was happening. Attacks down the wing? Nope. Having Carlos Tévez seemingly try to be a one-man show and do awesome things? Nope. Leonardo Bonucci launching balls from his own half try Tévez or Dani Osvaldo? Nope, nothing was kick-starting the Juve offense.
Ah, but for all those misplaced attempts over the top of the Lyon defense, Leo had the last laugh.
Bonucci's goal in the 85th minute gave Juventus exactly what they set out to do — come back to Turin with a win and an away goal in their back pocket. Their form wasn't magically fixed following Sunday night's loss to Napoli, and the first half against Lyon will only demonstrate that further.
But when Juventus needed a goal, they got one...from one of their central defenders. Yep, just the way we drew it up a couple of hours before kickoff in France.
Another @bonucci_leo19 stat for you: he made 103 passes this evening, at least 45 more than any other player in #OLJuve. #UEL— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) April 3, 2014
Just in case you don't feel like looking it up, that's almost three times as many passes as Prilo completed (40) against Lyon on Thursday night. I think it's fair to say that Bonucci had a little more than defending to worry about Thursday night. And even though he's always a threat because of his passing ability out of the back, the first leg against Lyon was the most involved he has been a good amount of time.
Or, in simpler terms, you can look at a picture.
Lyon vs Juventus match report pic.twitter.com/4JCQN1rldq— Cristiano Acconci (@MrAcconci) April 3, 2014
Good night, folks. We'll see you next time.
(Okay, maybe not. The mic hasn't been dropped just yet.)
Random thoughts and observations
- The game on Fox Sports 1 was "How many different ways can we pronounce Gianluigi Buffon." It ain't that hard, guys. They could have even said 'God' and I would have been totally okay with it.
Now that I've got that out of my system, we can talk some actual football...
- Dani Osvaldo...yikes. That form he showed in his first couple of games with Juventus now seems like a pretty distant memory as we head into April. It was almost like the turnovers he committed vastly outnumbered the positive contributions he made against Lyon on Thursday night. Mirko Vučinić remerging as an option for Antonio Conte might be some bad news for Osvaldo as the season starts to wind down.
- Bonucci just sent three long balls over the top and to the other team while I typed out this sentence. The goal kinda makes up for some of those turnovers, Leo, so you're forgiven.
- Please don't be seriously hurt, Carlos Tévez. I'd miss you so.
- The turning point in Juve's win? The moment Antonio Conte introduced Sebastian Giovinco and teamed him with Vučinić in the attack. Juventus needed some kind of spark and those two provided it. Did it drastically change things and help Juventus storm past Lyon? Obviously not. But there was a clear improvement over what was happening before they stepped onto the field. (Which, hint hint, wasn't much of anything to write home about.) Bonucci launching balls forward really didn't happen as much and Juve played the ball on the ground. Huh, a couple creative players with the ball on their feet. Who knew it would end up working well...
- How good is Gigi Buffon playing right now? Thursday night was again a case of Buffon not having to do very much, but the pair of saves he did make were absolutely huge. I'd say a clean sheet and a win is a pretty decent way to ring in your 700th career club appearance.
- Juventus won a game and Simone Padoin didn't get to come on the field in the final two minutes? Completely unacceptable.
- Europa League Game Time Thread: Juventus vs. Lyon, Leg 1
- Europa League Preview: Juventus vs. Lyon, Leg 1 — The French Connection
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- Juventus vs. Napoli, Serie A Round 31: Full match coverage
- Napoli 2 - Juventus 0: Initial reaction and random observations