Just in case we needed some more confirmation about how important it is to finish atop your group in the Champions League, seeing Javier Zanetti's hand pull out Bayern Munich as Juventus' Round of 16 opponent is the latest.
Juventus falling into second place behind Manchester City on the final day of the group stage meant that they ran the risk of being drawn against one of the biggest of big clubs in Europe come Monday's Round of 16 draw in Switzerland. The result was exactly what many feared— Juve may have missed Barcelona, but they got Bayern Munich.
Now, I'm not saying that Juventus' Champions League run is over even before the knockout rounds get started. But this is as big of a challenge as they could have potentially gotten to try and reach the quarterfinals. Juve will be the underdogs, probably by a lot, because Bayern has been an absolute soul-crushing machine this season much like the last time the two clubs met in the quarterfinals back in 2013.
(Good lord, that Bayern goal differential is just insane.)
It was one ex, Sevilla's Fernando Llorente, who played a role in Juve's group stage-closing loss. And now, Juventus will face another pair of exes, midfielder Arturo Vidal and winger Kingsley Coman. Both, of course, left during Juve's whirlwind summer of change earlier in the year — one departure being a little more talked about than the other. Let's just hope that the ex on Juventus' side, Mario Mandzukic — who just so happened to score in Turin while wearing a Bayern jersey in 2013 — fares better of the group of players facing their former club.
Nedved: "I believe our team has improved in Europe and I am confident, even though we know @FCBayernEN represent very tough opposition."— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) December 14, 2015
The first leg of the matchup will be played at Juventus Stadium on Tuesday, Feb, 23, with the return being in Germany on Wednesday, March 16. Just five days after the first leg against Bayern in Turin, Juve will play current league leaders Inter at Juventus Stadium. They may not be atop the league come the end of February, but it's safe to say that six-day stretch is going to be pretty damn important no matter what.