One single point. That's all Juventus needed. Just one. Not two, not three, just one. Getting three points wasn't necessarily the be-all, end-all situation for Juventus on Tuesday night against Sevilla. Basically, there was a little room for error, but not too much when it came to the final result.
Juve definitely walked the tight rope — and then saw that wiggle room go up in smoke.
And, of course, it had to be Fernando Llorente who scored the game-winning goal because there wasn't any other way Sevilla was going to win. This is how things work. That's just how they work. The Ex Effect showed its ugly head again thanks to Llorente's goal. (Although, it can't be all too ugly because, well, it's Llorente and all.) And with that goal, Juve's inability to crack Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico's god-like performance between the sticks and Manchester City's 4-2 comeback win over Borussia Monchengladbach, the club that was in first place to begin the final matchday of the group stage isn't there when Group D closes its doors.
Just a positive result. That's it.
Nope, not in the cards today.
It took all of one moment in front of goal, a classic kind of Llorente header where he rises above the defense and makes them pay for it, for Juventus to be reminded of how ineffective they were in front of goal on Tuesday night. Neither team truly dominated. It wasn't like their first match in Turin where Juve were clearly the better of the two teams.
The fact still remains, though: Juventus needed a result, they didn't get it. And now they've seen the consequences of it.
Who knows, maybe they will get another favorable matchup in the Round of 16 at next Monday's draw like they did last season with a struggling Borussia Dortmund side. But now the risk of playing one of the big boys is all too real. It's in play, it's a little scary and it's just a guy picking the wrong mini football away from happening.
That's what happens when you control your own destiny and don't take of business. Juve played with fire, and then ... burn.
Random thoughts and observations
- The one game Juventus couldn't afford to lose, they did.
(Insert the usual "Juventus never does things easy and/or logically in Europe" statement here)
- Álvaro Morata is going to get a lot of the criticism after this game because of this two costly misses right in front of the goal. He's clearly out of form, clearly lacking in confidence. We've seen that he can be a streaky player in the past, and this is no different. You have to take the good with the bad sometimes — especially with younger players. Do I think Morata will come good? Of course, he's shown it before and will show it again. We're just gonna have to be a little patient, I guess.
- Lost in people simply reacting to the final score was the fact that you had two goalkeepers who pretty much stole the show for the vast majority of the game. Sergio Rico and Gigi Buffon both made a bevy of top-notch saves to keep the game scoreless before Llorente's match decider. Rico had eight saves, most of them were really good. Buffon had five saves, almost all of then were really good. Sure, Morata missed some chances, but the two keepers were really, really good, too.
- Max Allegri made one sub. And outside of Juan Cuadrado serving up a cross to Morata that could have resulted in the game-tying goal, that sub did nothing at all. I don't know if Allegri stuck with Morata to see if he could get a goal when he was clearly getting chances.
- Sometimes you look at single moments in a game that would have made you forget all about what happened in the other 89 minutes. If Paulo Dybala's left-footed bender snuck under the crossbar instead of clanging square off it, then we're probably talking about Juve finishing atop Group D rather than what we currently are. That's not a slight on Dybala at all because he was great once again. But, man, if he scored that goal, there would have been a whole lot more to celebrate instead of us simply reminding ourselves "Hey, at least we're in the knockout round and not Manchester United!"
- It just had to be Llorente. It just had to be.
- Okay, I'll ask the question: Who ya got?