Well, at least Manchester United lost.
That’s really the only good news that we can take out of Wednesday night’s Champions League group stage finales. Juventus, needing any kind of positive result to secure the top spot in Group H ahead of next week’s Round of 16 draw, didn’t take the easy route. Instead, they fell behind 2-0 on a controversial penalty call and some absolutely horrid defending on a rare Young Boys second-half counterattack only to have some late-game Paulo Dybala heroics come up just short in a 2-1 loss.
The saving grace in all of this is that as Juve fell in Switzerland, United was losing by the same scoreline to Valencia. And that means that the same two-point difference between Juventus and Manchester United that we started the day with was how things finished up.
Juve loses the game.
Juve wins Group H.
Just a relatively uneventful night with frigid temperatures in Bern, right?
Young Boys have scored 2+ goals in a Champions League group stage game for the first ever time.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 12, 2018
They are now on course for their first ever win in the CL group stages too. ✔️ pic.twitter.com/ktZqO79A4V
Congrats to Juventus for being a major player in this little piece of history!
Outside of those two Dybala strikes — you know, the one that actually counted and the one that should have counted in Cristiano Ronaldo hadn’t made the slightest of movements toward the ball — there wasn’t much to come out of this game. We did get to see Max Allegri do his whole Sideline Hulk thing, which gave the worldwide audience the chance to hit up the Google machine and quickly see what the translation to “CAZZO” was.
It was that kind of night, one that was filled with frustration more than anything. And not just frustration, but self-inflicted frustration because of what Juve weren’t able to do against a Young Boys side that had all of one point to their name through their first five Champions League group stage games this season.
Just look at what happened with Juve over the course of the 90 or so minutes:
Sixty percent possession.
Twenty-five total shots.
Two shots hit off the post.
Seven shots on target.
And yet, the only two shots that found the back of the night — and only of those counted — were absolutely brilliant strikes off the left foot of Dybala.
It was that kind of night.
The kind of performance that has you thinking that this should have been a relatively easy Juventus win if they converted any combination of their numerous first-half scoring chances.
Those games are the absolute worst — especially when you know that it really should have never happened against a team that Juve dominated the last time the two teams were on the same field.
But hey, at least there was no damage done in the big picture and Juve head into Monday’s Round of 16 draw in Pot 1. That’s what Wednesday night was all about, right? ... right!
Oh, and thanks a bunch for the help, Valencia.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Atletico Madrid, Tottenham, Liverpool, Schalke, Ajax, Lyon, Who ya got?
- Before you yell at me, Ronaldo was offside AND obstructing the goalkeeper’s view of the ball while standing in an offside position. It was the right call.
- Was this Ronaldo’s least effective game as a Juventus player? He had A TON of scoring chances, but uncharacteristically couldn’t finish any one of them.
- Leo Messi fanboys are gonna have a field day with that, by the way.
- Leonardo Bonucci’s defending this season — still not great!
- If Wojciech Szczesny was totally cool with playing a Champions League game on sand, then nobody should be blaming field turf for what happened to Juventus on Wednesday night. This wasn’t the field’s fault. Juventus just couldn’t score for the life of them for the first 79 minutes.
- Seriously, 25 shots. One of THOSE games.
- Douglas Costa’s second half was close to resembling Vintage Douglas Costa.
- I really don’t know what formation Allegri was using in the final 20 or so minutes after bringing Dybala on because there were more forwards/wingers on the field than defenders, but you can’t blame Max for not going for it once his team fell behind 2-0.
- For a large part of the game, Federico Bernardeschi looked like a guy who hadn’t started a game in nearly two months. Maybe because that’s exactly what was the case.
- And yet, Bernardeschi made five key passes, according to WhoScored, so what the hell do I know anyway.
- Rodrigo Bentancur: Four key passes, 88.2 percent pass completion. That’ll do.
- Szczesny touched the ball more than Mario Mandzukic. Just gonna leave that out there.
- Again, a big thank you to our friends from Valencia. First the willingness to sell Joao Cancelo this past summer and now this. Great guys, that club.