It was Juventus’ first corner kick of the night where I thought they were dead in the water. I should have had at least the slightest bit of optimism based on how much time was still left on the clock, but after seeing Miralem Pjanic blast one of Juve’s few legitimate chances in the final third of the field over the course of the first 50 or so minutes.
And then, the tide turned.
On came Kwadwo Asamoah. On came Stephan Lichtsteiner. Suddenly, Juventus looked like a team again. With it came the kind of comeback that I’m not sure many people were expecting based on how Juve looked up until that point, but it was one that I welcomed with open arms. Gonzalo Higuain, with the narrative that he chokes in big games, tied it up at 1-1. Less than three minutes later, Higuain, that big game choker, set up Paulo Dybala for what proved to be the second game-winner in the span of five days for Juve’s No. 10.
A 3-2 aggregate deficit suddenly flipped into a 4-3 lead. I really can’t explain this team sometimes. Seriously, I can’t. Maybe I can just pull a Michael Corleone in Godfather III — yes, I know, they really should have stopped after the second one — and say that just when you think Juventus is out they pull you back in.
And when the final whistle sounded, well things can be summed up like this:
I don’t know what all the complaining on Twitter around the 45th or 50th minute was all about. This was just a normal, relaxing game from Juventus in the Champions League.
/comes to senses/
I don’t think anybody will be making the argument that, over the course of the two legs, Tottenham was the better team. You look at what Spurs did in Turin, you look at what Spurs did in London and you can pretty much say that they were a team that played the way that deserves to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals.
But leave it to Allegri, who was getting absolutely roasted on social media at halftime, to be the one to make two very well-timed and much-needed changes and have his team suddenly look competent again. With it came a sudden wave of momentum that produced two of the most important goals Higuain and Dybala have scored in their respective Juve careers.
Spurs were wobbling, they were there for the taking and Juventus did exactly what they needed to do. Fino alla fine, baby.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Andrea Barzagli is not a right back.
- This game should be the last time that Andrea Barzagli plays right back.
- It probably won’t be the last time Andrea Barzagli plays right back.
- And yet, I’m sitting here smiling because Andrea Barzagli had one of the most important plays of the night with that goal line clearance with time winding down.
- As the entire Wembley crowd took part in a minute of silence for Davide Astori, the cameras caught Giorgio Chiellini trying with all of his mite to hold back tears for his fallen friend. A couple hours later, I feel like that was the kind of Chiellini game that Astori would have most certainly been proud of. I know I am.
It’s because Chiellini was everywhere. He had two issues with Harry Kane in the first half that almost resulted in goals, but he was absolute nails after that. Juve needed a monster effort from Chiellini to be successful on Wednesday night, and that’s exactly what they got. He was everywhere. He was making clearances like they were going out of style. One of those clearances in the second half produced the gif above — and it was most definitely worthy of such a reaction from Gigi Buffon. Just an amazing game from Chiellini.
- If you want actual stats on what Chiellini did against Spurs, prepare for your mind to be blown. I did say he was everywhere, didn’t I?
- I am all for Buffon, at age 40, being the orange-clad version of an Energizer Bunny like he was for most of that game. You see him yelling at his defense, celebrating the goals, running absolutely wild and squeezing the crap out of Dybala as they walk around the Wembley field after the game and it just reminds you of this man’s passion for this club.
- Oh, by the way, Buffon played pretty damn well, too.
- Two Lichtsteiner crosses have led to goals in recent games. This is such a bizarro world sometimes and I really don’t know how to explain things sometimes. (You probably figured that out already, maybe even in this thread.)
- Who figured that TAKING OFF Blaise Matuidi would have been one of the turning points in the game? I didn’t.
- I know the past is the past, but I feel like it’s worth a mention: Dani Alves said he left Juventus because he wanted to do better in the Champions League. The last 24 hours seems to be some kind of sweet and enjoyable poetic justice, my friends.
- Woj forever. (peep the caption)
- God bless Argentina.
- One last question: How’s your blood pressure doing? Because mine ain’t going down until about 5 p.m. on Friday.