Tick tock went to the clock. Five minutes gone. Ten minutes gone. Fifteen and 20 minutes gone. On and on and on from first half to second half. I have never watched the clock so much during a game in which Juventus entered with a 3-0 aggregate scoreline. The feeling in my stomach — and probably a lot of other people, too — was that it felt more like a 1-0 game rather than one where Juventus had a 3-0 lead to work with.
But we can breathe a lot easier now.
We can stop watching the clock now.
Juventus is still alive in the Champions League. They’re one of the final four left standing. We have one more Champions League draw to sit through at random hours around the world. It can be one of three teams. It doesn’t matter who at this point. Juventus just took down what many people were saying, at the very least, was one of the best teams in the world. There was no need for magic off the left foot of Paulo Dybala once again. There proved to be no need for Juventus to add onto its 3-0 aggregate scoreline. None of that.
Juventus beat Barcelona straight up, defending as well as they have all season.
Juventus shut Barcelona out over 180-plus minutes. How you like them apples?
I said it in the match preview and I will say it again here: I didn’t think Barcelona could be as wasteful with their chances in the second leg as they were last Tuesday night in Turin. Outside of a few saves from Gianluigi Buffon — one of them absolutely magnificent — every scoring chance Barcelona had went high, wide and every direction other than being put on goal. You couldn’t think that history could repeat itself because they’re too good not to have that happen to them again.
Yet the final tally on Wednesday night was this:
Nineteen shots. Two on target.
Some of it was Barcelona being terrible in front of goal again. And with that comes mounting frustration that was oh-so-obvious as the game went on. But you look at how Juventus were defending, how many shots and crosses they blocked either out for corners or just simply cleared seconds later, and you have to love the way Juventus defended. Even as Barcelona clearly tried to attack the right side of Juventus’ midfield and defense (Dani Alves and Juan Cuadrado) — mainly through Neymar — nothing ended up coming of it. Just a handful of shots. Not one single goal.
To shutout a team like Barcelona, with their star attacking trio, over two legs are they just had absolutely bamboozled Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg a few weeks back could very well be the most impressive thing we’ve seen from Juventus not just this season but in the last couple of years.
Even as the minutes went tick-tock off the clock, Juventus defended. And defended. And defended. It was advantage Juventus entering the night. It turned out to be the same damn advantage as the final minutes went by one by one in the second half.
And then they panned to the Juventus bench where Dybala was celebrating with his teammates as Allegri continued to scream out instructions. It was time to exhale. Well, for all of us except Max. He’s just gonna keep screaming until he leaves the stadium.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- How many of Dani Alves’ Juventus teammates were screaming at him right as the ball was being kicked off and he was off being, well, Dani Alves?
- Don’t know if you guys and gals noticed, but Barcelona certainly does like to complain to the referee a lot. But props to the referee and his assistants for not putting up with any kind of B.S. from either team. It doesn’t matter how much complaining there was from Barcelona players or the Camp Nou crowd, it was a well officiated game.
- Leonardo Bonucci was fantastic.
- Giorgio Chiellini was fantastic.
- Miralem Pjanic was fantastic.
- Juan Cuadrado was fantastic.
- A lot like in the first leg, there probably isn’t going to be a player in a Juventus jersey where you think to yourself “Man, they had a bad game.” It was good all the way around, folks. That’s how you get the job done.
- There was one bad thing to happen against Barcelona: The pass from Buffon to Alex Sandro, which caused a turnover and then Sami Khedira to pick up a yellow card. Because of said yellow card, there will be no Khedira in the first leg of the semifinals. No, he’s not going to Mallorca, so just stop there. And yes, there’s Claudio Marchisio, so it’s not as bad as one might think on the surface of things. But still, it’s probably something that should have never happened in the first place.
- Lionel Messi still hasn’t scored on Gigi Buffon.