When Sevilla has played away from home over the last year, they’ve done anything but win. Seriously, in 19 away games in La Liga last season, they didn’t pick up three points one single time. It was that kind of season for them, one that again ended with them lifting the Europa League trophy.
And yet, Wednesday’s wasn’t one of Sevilla’s rare wins away from home. But it certainly wasn’t one where Juventus came away looking all that great as they opened a Champions League campaign where the bar is set as high as it has been in years.
Sevilla, under the direction of new manager Jorge Sampaoli and his extremely small polo shirts, came into Turin and mucked things up as much as you can muck things up. For the vast majority of Wednesday’s scoreless snoozer, Juventus had no real flow, no real rhythm to their play. There were scoring chances, sure. And some were better and brighter than others. But for all the expectations and reasons to be optimistic about Juventus’ Champions League opener, not much of anything truly came to fruition.
There will be frustration because that’s the kind of performance in which screaming obscenities at your favorite team was truly meant for. Juventus, on paper, are the best team in their group. By no means does that mean things are a cakewalk, but they’re surely the most talented squad of the four. On Wednesday, they hardly showed that. I’m not talking about glimpses or flashes of wonderful play. For the vast majority of the scoreless draw against Sevilla, it was a struggle with no real solution being brought until there wasn’t a whole lot of time left to be played.
This is a game to learn from, surely. From tactics to mindset to everything, Juventus’ first venture into European competition this season was pretty much a complete dud.
And then, right as the final whistle was sounding in Turin, this happened...
Morraattttttaaaa— M.O. Alajiki (@moalajiki) September 14, 2016
I need to break myself of the last two years. Every other SBN blog’s Twitter account was talking about their team scoring goals. Juventus were putting us on the brink of pulling our hair out. Yes, it was that kind of game.
If only Gonzalo Higuain’s header was a couple of centimeters lower instead of clanging off the crossbar. If only the shove in the back by Franco Vazquez on Marko Pjaca in the box was called a penalty instead of being completely waved off by the ref. If only Sergio Rico hadn’t made a great last-minute save on Alex Sandro.
Here’s the thing, though: Playing the “If only...” game means that things probably didn’t go your team’s way. And it’s safe to say that Juventus didn’t play well and instead have left us to wonder about what could have been compared to what actually happened.
The good thing is that this was the first game of the group stage. There’s five more group stage games to go. Let’s just hope that, unlike last season, the frustrating result against Sevilla is at the beginning of the group stage and not saved for November or December.
17 - Juventus have never lost their opening game in the #UCL group stage: 10 wins and seven draws in 17 participations. Regular. #JuveSFC— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) September 14, 2016
There’s that, I guess.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- In the pre-game press conference, Sevilla said they were going to attack. How’d that go, folks?
- Paulo Dybala was just fouled again as I was typing this sentence.
- HACK HACK HACK HACK HACK
- WhoScored says Dani Alves attempted 12 crosses against Sevilla. WhoScored says that seven of those crosses were accurate ones. This is nothing against WhoScored because they do fine work, but it definitely did not seem like Alves landed seven of his crosses.
- This brings us to the point that if Alves isn’t contributing much offensively, what’s the use of playing him? Unlike Patrice Evra, it’s not like Alves is a good defender. They both have a huge amount of Champions League experience in their back pockets, but this is the bind that Juve have put themselves in with Alves being the only natural right back on the squad list.
- I’m sure Max Allegri had his reasons to not start Miralem Pjanic. But when you look at the pace of the game before Pjanic came on and after, who’s to say that Allegri was right to wait so long to bring the Bosnian midfielder on? Allegri does a lot of things right, but this game definitely was not one of his best. Players definitely have to play, but with the way this game was going, Juve’s first change of the night shouldn’t have come with just over 20 minutes to go.
- Allegri said at his own pre-match press conference that there was one decision to be made when it came to his starters in the midfield. That was probably the Pjanic-Kwadwo Asamoah pick. For as good as Asamoah was to begin the season, that definitely was not one of his better games on Wednesday night. Just like the vast majority of his teammates, there was just nothing really to write home about for the Ghanian.
- Sevilla had three total shots and came away with a point. Amazing.