Juventus Top Performers – UCL Round of 16 – First Leg


Juventus could not rise to the occasion against Atletico Madrid, got pushed around and pinned back by the opponents in the second half and now find themselves in a nearly insurmountable hole ahead of the second leg. Here are the best performers from a rough night at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

Wojciech Szczesny: two solid saves by the goalkeeper, one on a strike from distance by Thomas and the other on Antoine Griezmann’s wicked free kick from the edge of the box, and a superb one of the Griezmann/Mattia De Sciglio’s lob in the second half, where he just managed to tip the ball on the crossbar. The centre-backs mostly did their job on open play, besides the Diego Costa chance, where Giorgio Chiellini mishandled the ball and Leonardo Bonucci could not tackle the striker. However, set pieces are pivotal in this kind of fixtures and the luck of the bounce often rewards who wants it more and the Colchoneros certainly were fiercer on Wednesday night, even though both goals where a little cheap. A subpar showing by both fullbacks, with De Sciglio often looking out of sorts and Alex Sandro too constrained by an overly defensive game plan.

Miralem Pjanic: nobody played well in the midfield, which got manhandled by the superior physicality of the opponents, but more importantly could not find a way to feed the attackers in a constant way, therefore limiting mightily the sorties of the team. Pjanic took one for the team playing under the weather, but he too should have done better on a couple of tasty balls from within his shooting range. Rodrigo Bentancur and Blaise Matuidi put in the effort, but all their running was mostly unproductive.

Federico Bernardeschi: he was arguably the only one to have a really positive showing here, helped by the fact that he played little and in a juncture when the Bianconeri finally tried to get something going on offense. His potent attempt on a scheme from that base line free kick could have rather anticlimactically turned the tide of the qualification and he had a pair of good combinations with the teammates. All eyes were on Cristiano Ronaldo in this one, but other than a missile free kick in the first half, he did not do much else and was often sloppy. He is a high volume shooter and the squad could not supply enough balls to him on Tuesday, but obviously it is always legitimate to expect something more out of him. Paulo Dybala had an encouraging first half when at times he shook free between the lines, but eventually faded like the rest of his teammates.

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