“If only the Champions League had VAR…”
Biased Juventus fan opinion: JAN VERTONGHEN’S CHALLENGE ON DOUGLAS COSTA IS 1000000000% A PENALTY…WHAT’S THE F*&%$#@ POINT OF THE ASSISTANT REFFERE IF HE MISSES A CALL LIKE THAT!?!?!?!?
Unbiased opinion: Jan Vertonghen’s challenge on Douglas Costa is clearly a penalty, I’m surprised they missed that…
You want to know how brainwashed I am by VAR? I’m not even sure they would’ve gone to the monitor to review that. No doubt the tie completely changes if a penalty is given there, but thankfully it all worked out in the end.
I have zero confidence in VAR (at least in its current state), so please leave it out of the one competition that matters the most to us. Save it for all the conspiracy theorists in Serie A who think it only benefits Juve.
“Hey, Max, maybe not the best idea to start Andrea at right back”
This is really an experiment that needs to stop. Son Heung-min ran all over Andrea Barzagli for most of the first hour, and it’s tough to blame him for being overmatched. Starting a 36-year-old center back out on the right against a team that possesses the pace and technique that Spurs’ attackers have was always going to fail. Unsurprisingly, Barzagli immediately looked more comfortable when he was moved back into the middle and finished strong alongside Giorgio Chiellini.
I understand Max’s hand was somewhat forced with Mattia De Sciglio’s continued absence, but Stephan Lichsteiner should have started the match. Juve came into the game knowing they had to score, and having natural full backs that can get forward was always going to help make that happen. Thankfully, Allegri eventually made the in-match adjustment, and Juve immediately looked more settled. The right back position is probably going to be revisited again over the summer, but strictly playing a rotation of De Sciglio and Lichsteiner should be the move for the remainder of the campaign.
“Follow up to the above, #AllegriOut”
No doubt, Allegri made a few mistakes over the two ties. What I laid out above, along with his decision to start with the 4-2-3-1 in the first leg in Turin, were decisions that are easy to criticize. However, his substitutions, and timing of those substitutions, completely swung the match at Wembley.
Going into Wednesday, I was very concerned what would happen if Juve conceded the first goal. Given all the injuries up front, the attacking changes that could be made from the bench were going to be sparse. Max still managed to find a way by adding the width of Lichsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah, thus allowing Juve’s attacking trident to play closer together. For that first hour, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain were often nowhere near each other, failing to string together any chances. Then, all of a sudden, two chances…two goals. It was clear on both goals that Spurs’ fullbacks were worried about Juve’s width, giving Higuain and Dybala just a little more room to operate.
Max is one of the best managers in Europe, and it’s about time everyone realizes how lucky we are that he’s screaming instructions to our guys.
“Giorgio Chiellini, never change”
Of all the Juve players that had something to prove on Wednesday, Chiellini was right there at the top of the list.
I thought he was poor in the first leg, and feared we might finally start to see a decline for everybody’s favorite big nosed defender. Instead, we were witnesses to pretty much the most Chiellini of Chiellini performances. (It wasn’t THE most Chiellini performance, there was no masks or head bandages needed.) Harry Kane was absent for much of the 90 minutes, and I can’t remember Chiellini ever being more than two feet away from him. (Slight exaggeration, but not really.)
There aren’t many defenders in the world that would be up for the physical challenge that Chiellini dealt with, and it was a pleasure to watch. All the clearances, tackles, blocks, and beautifully tactical fouls (including decking Dele Alli who actually didn’t dive for once), I couldn’t get enough. Here’s to King Kong. Long live the King.
“We have Dybala and Higuain, so we’ve got a shot”
As I love to point out on Twitter, Paulo and Gonzalo are just some bad hombres. You can’t give two players with that much class a few chances, cause they’ll bury them.
Dybala’s year has been so ridiculously up and down to this point, but this past week has reminded us all that his talent is next level. Beppe, please offer him the fattest extension possible so we don’t have to listen to rumors about him going to Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, or wherever. Also, can we just please retire the “Higuain doesn’t show up in big games” take? Having missed the last few matches, I was worried he was going to be a little rusty from the start. Instead, he picked up right where he left off before he got hurt, and his holdup/link-up play was a joy to watch. Pipita is one of the best strikers on the planet, plain and simple.
“Juve really could do with some new midfielders, though”
Now that we can all exhale, we can also look forward to the challenge that lies ahead. Is this team good enough to get back to the Champions League final? The main takeaway from these two legs against Spurs is that you can never count Juve out. They will truly fight until the end.
But…but…this team has its flaws, mainly in one area of the pitch.
Juve’s midfield is a real problem, and one that won’t have Miralem Pjanic for the first leg of the quarterfinals. Blaise Matuidi will run all night, but his technical qualities leave a lot to be desired, and were on full display before his removal on Wednesday. The ghost of Sami Khedira occupying a slot in that midfield three also isn’t helping matters. While we all love Il Principino, it’s tough to rely on Claudio Marchisio at this stage in his career. Rodrigo Bentancur might turn out to be a stud, but it’s his first season in Europe and he needs more time to settle in.
This is by far the biggest need that has to be addressed by Beppe and Co. this summer, as Juve need players with better technical quality. (Paging Emre Can.) Pjanic needs better quality around him in order to perform at his best, and Juve can’t afford to concede so much possession to the other European giants. This year, Juve’s stellar attack just might be enough to mask the problem, but long term there needs to be changes.
Let’s enjoy the Wembley high while we can, though, since this feeling is pretty freaking awesome. #FinoAllaFine