This is part of the good and the bad of writing something that is going to be published shortly after the final whistle blows. I'm sitting here as Juventus fell behind 2-0 on a classic kind of Arjen Robben goal and was thinking to myself, "How the hell am I going to explain this?" Juve were all out of sorts — and that might be putting it nicely. They looked far from the team we've seen during their rise up the Serie A table. Didn't really know where to go.
In short, Bayern were whoopin' on 'em.
And then I had to blow up every other thought I had in my head.
I've never been more happy to do just that.
Max Allegri's squad went from down 2-0 and looking a bad, bad loss at Juventus Stadium right in the face to scoring two goals in 13 minutes to pull even with Bayern Munich and head into the second leg with a whole lot of hope. We went from throwing around cuss words out of pure frustration to using those same words in pure bliss as Stefano Sturaro went sliding across the turf while watching his shot beat Manuel Neuer and rock the roof of the goal.
Some thought Juventus were dead and done for. Others were probably just at a loss for words and were simply hoping things didn't go from bad to worse before the second half came to a close. It was a wide range of feelings — and none of them were really good at all.
But once Paulo Dybala cut Bayern's lead in half, it gave us something we didn't have much of for the first 60 or so minutes. It gave us hope. And what do good teams do when they get start to get that sense of belief? They do something about it. And Juventus did. Oh, boy, did they ever.
This pretty unpredictable comeback means Juve have more than just a shot to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals. We said it wouldn't be easy in the first leg, and that will certainly hold true now that Bayern Munich are heading back to Germany for the return leg.
Allegri learned from the mistakes he made in the first half both in terms of tactics and personnel. Juventus had the wherewithal to actually show up in the second half after falling behind 2-0. And, as the scoreboard shows, they got a draw in a game where they were thoroughly outplayed for the majority of the 90 or so minutes.
Now, if I can ask one thing of Juventus for the second leg: Please, just bring that second-half performance to Munich in a couple weeks and we'll be in business.
.@PauDybala_JR: "We now go very tough venue, where very few teams win. But we know that we can do it with a repeat of our 2nd half display"— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) February 23, 2016
Random thoughts and observations
- You want the definition of 'Fino Alla Fine,' well you have it right there in front of you after that game, folks. That's what Juventus, to its black and white core, is all about. That's why we love this team so damn much. Just when you think they're out, they pull you back in.
- Where would Juventus have been if Gigi Buffon didn't make one or two of those saves in the first half?
- I know what you all were thinking when Hernanes came on for Claudio Marchisio to open the second half. I know it because I was thinking the same exact thing. But, let's be completely honest here: Hernanes was pretty good in the second half. And, since I'm such a Juventus insider, I can say that the second half went a whole lot better than the first 45 minutes.
- Is trying to figure out a way to stop Thomas Muller the No. 1 thing for Allegri entering the second leg? He's such a rare and unique player where it's hard to even define what his position truly is.
- You have to think that if Giorgio Chiellini is back for the second leg, Allegri's going 3-5-2. Seems pretty simple for me. I know the injuries have forced Allegri's hand quite a bit as of late, but the 4-4-2-ish formation just isn't working all too well.
- In case you were wondering how Mario Mandzukic would play in his first game in nearly a month, well, you got your answer. No, he didn't put away one of those two really good scoring chances in the first half, but name somebody who worked harder than Mandzukic and you won't come up with very many alternatives. I'm so happy he's back. Juve needed a player like Mandzukic in a game like this.
- Sturaro's two biggest moments as a Juventus player have come against two of the best clubs in the world on the European stage. His deflection on James Rodriguez against Real Madrid last season to prevent a goal, and now his game-tying goal Tuesday night. He's never going to be Juve's most-skilled midfielder, but he's certainly showing that playing the big boys of football doesn't shake him much.
- By the way, how nice was Álvaro Morata's header across the face of goal to Sturaro for the assist? Morata was all over the place after coming on for Dybala in the second half.
- Arturo Vidal probably could have been shown a yellow two or three times before he actually received one late in the game. As much as I love the guy as a player, it was kinda nice to watch an important Juventus game — or any one, for that matter — and not have that lingering thought in my head about the most recent tackle being the one that finally got Vidal sent off.
- That ref ... yeah. Let's just leave it there.
- Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go see how screwed up my blood pressure is after that game.