We knew going into Friday night’s second leg that Juventus had a hole to dig out of after the opening 90 minutes in France all the way back in February. But what Juventus didn’t need is for the uphill battle to become even steeper just a few short minutes after the opening whistle at Allianz Stadium sounded.
And yet ... it did.
And what resulted was ... yeah, you can probably guess.
Of course a big refereeing call will loom large in the hours and days following Juventus’ exit from the Champions League at the hands of Lyon on Friday night. It is the thing that prevented Juventus from, at the very least, going to extra time against Lyon. Instead, Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest Champions League brace and a 2-1 Juve victory wasn’t enough to see the Italian champions through to the quarterfinals, as Lyon was able to advance thanks to that valuable and undeserved away goal and a 2-2 aggregate scoreline.
So a season of frustration and unfulfilled potential ends.
Anger thrown toward refereeing decisions — hey, it’s not like the Juve penalty was all that good of a call, either, folks — will be a major sticking point.
This was not where Juventus’ management team envisioned things ending this time last summer when they were probably still a little bitter about being eliminated by Ajax.
Yet, Juventus’ 2019-20 season ends here ... thanks to a team that finished in seventh place in Ligue 1 and had only played one competitive game since the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down in France.
Then again, this was a team that all season has relied on individual moments of brilliance rather than comprehensive and consistent play throughout the entire team. No need to look any further than that than what we saw from this during the restart. Some of Juve’s best wins were because the likes of Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and even Douglas Costa scored insanely great goals, not because the team was humming on all cylinders are playing the way Maurizio Sarri wanted them to play.
Turn back to Friday night, and what happens?
Juventus get even in the game because of a Ronaldo PK. Take a 2-1 lead because of a great Ronaldo goal. And then they couldn’t finish the deal. They had chances to, but they couldn’t.
The penalty call against Rodrigo Bentancur changed the game, obviously. I don’t doubt that for a single second. It made a tough task even tougher, and it came at the point of the game where it really was just a punch in the gut. But Juventus had chances to turn this game around even after that. Those three headers in the second half — all of them coming in what felt like just a few minutes — will stick out as the biggest “What if ...” moments from this game outside of the penalty call against Bentancur and Federico Bernardeschi’s goal line dance routine. This is what this team is — a completely flawed one where not even Ronaldo’s Champions League heroics and scoring prowess was enough to get them over the top. (This is not me blaming Ronaldo, for the record.)
Quarterfinals last season.
Round of 16 this season.
Juventus thought they were getting the one thing they were missing when it came to winning the Champions League for the first time in over 20 years.
Turns out, the rest of the squad just ain’t good enough.
And neither was the refereeing this night, either.
RAMDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- In case you’re wondering if Felix Zwayer has pulled some refereeing B.S. before ...
Welcome to our hell; the Felix Zwayer show— Fear The Wall (@FearTheWall) August 7, 2020
- Dancing on some defenders and then missing a wide-open goal kinda sums up Federico Bernardeschi’s Juventus career, doesn’t it? If only he looked up.
- Juventus and disappointment in the Champions League. Goes together like peanut butter and jelly.
- Leonardo Bonucci header ... missed.
- Gonzalo Higuain header ... missed.
- Cristiano Ronaldo header ... missed.
- Those were the chances. There were other chances, but those were the chances.
- What would we have done if it was a Ronaldo free kick that allowed Juventus to advance to the quarterfinals? That might have broken the galaxy and any kind of logical thinking.
- There were plenty of people who were surprised that Paulo Dybala didn’t start against Lyon. I think it’s safe to say that we found out why both Sarri waited until the final 20 minutes of the second half and then when Dybala was forced to come off why starting him was never an option. Dybala gave it a go, and maybe he thought he could do more. But his body clearly wasn’t ready to allow him to be the difference maker we all hoped he could be when we saw him getting off the bench and at midfield.
- Oh, to remember the days when Juventus had fullbacks and wingers who could send in effective crosses on a regular basis. Those were good times.
- Who led Juventus in key passes? Federico Bernardeschi.
- Miralem Pjanic has been a good Juventus player. He has also been a player who, when put in a situation like he has been the last few weeks after transferring to Barcelona, hasn’t been full of any kind of potential drama. (Hi, Arthur.) It was sad to see that his last Juventus game was him getting yanked in the second half and that was that without any kind of fanfare or applause. He is good people, and a good player on top of it.
- I hope that when Juventus comes back next season there is more than just Danilo as an available fullback option for Maurizio Sarri to choose from. That was quite the uninspiring option for Sarri to turn to when Cuadrado had to be pulled.
- There were a few nervy moments, but you take out the penalty that should have never been a penalty and Juventus’ defense did the job. I mean, Wojciech Szczesny had to make all of one save in the game.
- Just ... ugh.
- That’s it. Where’s the bourbon?