If you wanted style points, you probably should have watched something else. If you wanted beautiful football, you should have gone back to the DVR and watch Bayern Munich destroy Porto. This was anything but that, with Juventus trying to do their best Mr. Magoo imitation as they tried to get an attack going.
Yet, through all of it, Juventus defended like a bunch of maniacs.
And because of it, this Max Allegri-led squad is heading to the Champions League semifinals for the first time since the 2002-03 season when the likes of Nedved, Trezeguet and Del Piero wore those pretty black and white stripes.
Juventus are in the final four. The overall performance wasn't good or anything close to it. The possession numbers favored Monaco. Same goes for the shots taken and passes completed. It was Juventus that was scrambling around like a bunch of crazy people to try and defend Monaco at times. It was, for the vast majority of the game, just a complete mess of an effort outside of what Juve were doing on the defensive end of the field.
The end result, though, is this:
We have our final four! @FCBarcelona, @FCBayernEN, @juventusfcen, @realmadriden #UCL pic.twitter.com/n4Od7lJC5a— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 22, 2015
That's beautiful, man.
So be honest, who had Juventus making the semifinals of the Champions League in the week or two after Allegri replaced Antonio Conte as this club's manager? Be honest, we won't judge you if you thought reaching this portion of the Champions League was even possible back in late July. But here they are, among the big boys in the semifinals.
"Juventus, Champions League semifinalist" is a wonderful thing to write. It's a wonderful thing to see. And to see somebody like Gianluigi Buffon, who has been through so much since the last time he's reached this point in this competition, get back there at the age of 37, you can understand why he's running around and celebrating the way he is.
Enjoy it. Enjoy it all. This is the latest step in a season that has been
Style points? Ha! "Alla Juventus vincere non è importante. È l'unica cosa che conta."
.@OfficialAllegri: "Congratulations to the lads, they showed maturity. You need to adapt to opponents who make life difficult for you." #UCL— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) April 22, 2015
Random thoughts and observations
- I was sooooooooooo wrong about Max Allegri. So, so very wrong. (And I'm completely okay with it.)
- Arturo Vidal was fantastic on the big stage once again. Tonsillitis? Who needs tonsillitis, right? The guy, who many thought was a doubt two days ago on Monday, goes out and blocks a pair of shots, makes six tackles (second only to Claudio Marchisio in the game) and was simply running all over the place like the Vidal of old. He showed his old self in yet another big game. That's just how he rolls.
- Juventus was able to survive on the road and advance to the Champions League semifinals in a game where they recorded a paltry 72 percent pass success rate. When's the last time something like that happened? Style points, I guess they left those things back in Turin or something.
- Giorgio Chiellini was just a complete mess in the first half, highlighted by his opening-minute fall and subsequent handball-plus-yellow-card moment of absolute horror. He almost gave away a penalty, too, as he looked like a shell of the player that the commentators on my television feed kept describing. However, much to his credit, he rebounded well in the second half and was a steady presence throughout as Monaco looked for a goal.
- For all the pressure and possession they threw in Juventus' direction, Monaco had all of one shot on goal. One. And it was right at Gigi Buffon, who calmly saved it like he usually does. Some of it had to do with the way Juventus' backline scrambled to get the job done, but Monaco sure as hell should have done better in the attacking third.
- Speaking of saves, how about that one by Patrice Evra off the goal line after Buffon's not-so-great attempt to haul in a Monaco cross in the second half? He got a lot of heat earlier this season, but Evra's been pretty damn steady for weeks now. Yes, this is praise for Patrice Evra because he deserves a lot of it.
- Andrea Barzagli, folks. Just Andrea Barzagli. That's why Allegri went 3-5-2. Whatever it takes to get Andrea Barzagli in the lineup is okay with me. Just because it's Andrea Barzagli.
- Who led Juventus in clearances against Monaco? It wasn't Barzagli. It wasn't Chiellini. Try Leonardo Bonucci. While Chiellini struggled in the opening half, it was Bonucci and Barzagli who had to clean up the mess their fellow Italian international defender made.
- Simone Padoin, Human Victory Cigar status back in full force.
- Semifinal draw is on Friday. We'll see you then, boys and girls.