Things were so much better when Juventus was up 2-0 after eight minutes.
So much better when Gonzalo Higuain was scoring goals and Juventus looked like a world beater that was storming right on through Tottenham. So much better when the clear objective Juve had coming out of the gate was to attack and attack and attack some more to take early command of things.
Then Max Allegri, who got things right in the first 10 minutes, suddenly decided that taking the foot off the gas and protecting a 2-0 lead with 80 minutes left was the best thing for his team to do.
And, well, Juve kept the door open for Spurs to come back to walk on through. So Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and the rest of their buddies from North London came storming through the door just like Juventus opened the game.
Juve’s bright start is now a distant memory. Starting a sentence with “What if...” will probably have about a couple thousand endings to it based on how that game started out. We’re not left only thinking about Higuain’s beautiful opener after SEVENTY-THREE SECONDS. We’re not left only thinking about Higuain making it 2-0 from the penalty spot after Federico Bernardeschi got crushed after hauling in a cross from the left wing.
Instead, the theme is about a massive missed opportunity.
Instead, the theme is about how Allegri got whooped on in the tactical battle against Mauricio Pochettino.
Instead, the theme is going to be the end result — Tottenham having two incredibly important away goals instead of not putting Spurs away when they had the chance.
We can credit Tottenham all we want when it comes to their fightback from a two-goal deficit inside 10 minutes. But it’s impossible to avoid Juve going from looking amazing to start the game and putting Tottenham completely on their heels to almost seemingly going to the exact opposite kind of scenario in what seemed like the blink of an eye.
Yeah, it was that kind of night for Juventus.
You thought that with the way this game started that this thread would have been filled with happy thoughts, pictures of Juventus players celebrating and not one word of criticism going in Allegri’s direction.
I thought that was going to be the case, too. Then the rest of the game happened — and it was very, very bad.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I didn’t think a 4-2-3-1 was going to happen. I was wrong.
- In retrospect, a 4-2-3-1 was the wrong choice.
- The 4-3-3 gave Juventus the defensive stability that it was sorely lacking the first three months of the season. Then, suddenly, a change to a 4-2-3-1 disrupts all of that and, against a very good attacking team like Tottenham, things fall apart in the midfield and at the back. It’s almost like what was working was suddenly taken away and everything went to hell. There will be questions as to why Allegri did what he did, and rightfully so. To change things on this stage and at this point of the Champions League was curious to say the least, and Allegri deserves a good amount of heat for how he handled the starting lineup and the approach to the game once his team was up 2-0.
- At what point does Allegri start taking playing time away from Sami Khedira? I get that there are injuries now and all that, but he’s been absolutely terrible the past two games. And it’s not like he’s been all that great outside of the random multi-goal game every couple of months. It’s time for Sami to be phased out.
- Juventus’ midfield was absolute trash. Moussa Dembele, on the other hand, was amazing.
- I’m pretty sure this was the best example of how much Blaise Matuidi means to this Juventus team. If you’re going to play a double pivot, it needs Matuidi there, not somebody who has been terrible lately like Khedira. Please come back from injury soon, Blaise, because we miss you.
- I’m not going to sit here and blame Higuain for a lot of stuff that happened. Should he have scored his second penalty? Well, obviously. It’s not like crashing a shot off the crossbar is going to be the end goal for any PK. But the easy thing to do is to blame Higuain when he does something wrong in a big game because that’s just what happens.
- Basically what I’m trying to say is that Juventus had a lot bigger problems than Higuain not getting a hat trick on Tuesday night.
- Juventus’ second sub of the night was Stefano Sturaro. Can we just digest this for a second. Injuries suck, but no matter who is available there should be no Sturaro sightings in important Champions League games.
- This game needed Claudio Marchisio and his calming influence to a situation that was going haywire. This game never saw Claudio Marchisio take the field. I don’t get it.
- This was not Gigi Buffon’s best night — which is kinda odd to be typing based on the fact that his first save was really, really good. No step to his left on Eriksen’s equalizer and he saves it. That’s just something you don’t see Buffon do often at all.
- This wasn’t a loss ... but it sure does feel like one.