For the third consecutive season, the Champions League journey of Juventus ends abruptly before reaching the final phases. The Bianconeri put in a lot of effort in a marathon with Porto, but ultimately got bit by an abhorrent start, frenzy and lack of attention to detail, wasting an opportunity that was surely within reach.
Federico Chiesa: the clear man of the match in both contests as, after keeping the hopes alive in the first one, he spearheaded the assault after the disadvantage, bagging two terrific goals and constantly pushing the envelope. He was the true leader on the pitch, took on most of the responsibilities and delivered with a piledriver in the top corner and a clutch header. The Old Lady got a lot out of their midfielders in this one as Arthur properly pulled the strings and orchestrated the offense while he had still the legs to do so, while Adrien Rabiot re-opened the match in the extra time with a great header on a corner kick after what was in general a pretty decent display. Continue reading
Despite the shocking start in each half where they literally gave away two goals amid a very lackadaisical performance, Juventus maintained their qualification hopes alive in the Porto clash thanks to a late push that culminated in a vital score by Federico Chiesa.
Chiesa: the Italian winger bagged it with an accurate strike, and who knows whether he intended to do that or if it was just a lucky bounce, but the trajectory ended up being just perfect considering the bodies in between. However, the whole action would have not been possible without a very clever cut down the flank by the Frenchman and an impeccable low-driven cross. He also produced the only other major chance for the Bianconeri, forcing the opposing goalie into a difficult save with an acrobatic kick. Continue reading
Juventus pulled off the upset and exacted revenge on a shell-shocked Barcelona, snatching the first spot in their Champions League group thanks to their best performance of the season.
Gianluigi Buffon: everybody needs to do their part to keep a clean sheet at Camp Nou and any defender could have been deserving of the nod. Leonardo Bonucci almost put the nail in the coffin late and was quietly impressive, while Danilo and Matthijs De Ligt were extremely aggressive in the duels, also far away from their own box, which often set the tone. But the shout-out goes to the ageless wonder, who was given a maybe final spotlight by coach and answered the bell whenever he was called into action, in particular on the numerous sharp attempts by Lionel Messi. Continue reading
In a glorified friendly with Dynamo Kyiv, Juventus survived the usual midgame lull and cruised their way to a three-nil victory, which however does not put them any closer to the first spot as Barcelona were successful as well versus Ferencvarosi.
Alex Sandro: a vintage performance on offense for the Brazilian fullback, who attacked at will and came up with a quality assist for Federico Chiesa thanks to a soft and well-placed cross. He has seen limited playing time so far because of a major thigh injury, so it will be interesting to see what role the new regime has in store for him. Second-best in the back was Wojciech Szczesny since he had a monster save to avoid the equalizer in the first half, furiously shooting the gap on a wide-open opponent. Ordinary business for Leonardo Bonucci and Merih Demiral, who played slightly out of position but held his own, while Matthijs De Ligt was not as on point as in other circumstances and all in all was not required to do too much. Continue reading
Juventus tried to jog their way past a very scrappy Ferencvaros that defended with great organization and energy throughout the whole game, also adding some interesting counter-attacks. The lack of effort was almost costly, but the Bianconeri ultimately succeeded when the hopes appeared to have vanished thanks to another Champions League by Alvaro Morata.
Matthijs De Ligt: the return of the Dutch startler has fixed a lot of things in the defence, even though they were unable to keep the clean sheet in this one due to a rather random goal where Alex Sandro and Danilo defended too non-chalantly and Wojciech Szczesny just read the trajectory of the shot all wrong. Danilo, who was tidy beyond that, then redeemed himself late with a gorgeous long-ball for the sprinting Juan Cuadrado ahead of the game-winning goal. Continue reading
Juventus again took the foot off the gas after getting an early lead, but it did no harm this time as Ferencvarosi mustered very little offense overall and literally self-combusted in the second half.
Wojciech Szczeny: nothing really to report the defensive end, as the rearguard held firm when it still matteted, barring a pair of miscues in the second portion of the first half, but the opponents had just one or two borderline dangerous shots. Nobody in the back stood out, so the nod goes to the goalie, who rushed out of the goal in a hurry to shoot the gap on an opponent that had stolen a backwards pass. He did not manage to keep a clean sheet as the Hungarian side scored a random consolation goal late, despite his strong save on the initial attempt, but Frank Boli vacuumed up the tap-in. Continue reading
Juventus were handed the first loss of the season, at home no less, by a depleted Barcelona team that never really needed to get into second gear to create problems and whose laundry list of absences was very exploitable, but the Old Lady paid the price for a collective off-day of their most creative players.
Leonardo Bonucci: he bit the bullet coming off a small injury that in other times would have cost him some matches and he was surprisingly decent as started off with an incredible slide to block a shot and then thwarted some insidious actions simpluy with masterful positioning. Continue reading
Juventus finally tuned up the defensive phase in the trip to Ukraine and seemed in control for the majority of the contest in its Champions League debut, kicking off the group stage in positive fashion.
Leonardo Bonucci: the back-line lost Giorgio Chiellini in the first twenty minutes but held up with ease for the most part, a nice change of pace compared to a suspect start of the season on that front. They were surely helped by the remissive attitude, which attacked convicingly only for few minutes in the second half. Bonucci and Merih Demiral were neck-and-neck in terms of performance, the Italian stalwart was just a little more noticeable and precise. Danilo improved compared to the last match, but also had some awful clearances. Wojciech Szczesny was never challenged too seriously. Continue reading
A sloppy, gassed and quickly dejected Juventus came one goal short of completing the comeback against Lyon despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s heroics as, sans a hobbled Paulo Dybala, the supporting cast proved to be nowhere near the level of the Portuguese ace.
Alex Sandro: he was not only the best defender on the pitch, but straight-up the second-best contributor of the night, as he bust out a vintage performance full of charisma, sprints and tidy defending. He was one of the few that still had some energy in the second half and thus created some dangerous situations galloping down the flank. Continue reading
Juventus reached their first objective of the season by securing the top spot in their Champions League group with a one-nil victory over Atletico Madrid that was accompanied by one of the best team’s showings in a while.
Matthijs De Ligt: he was bound to be the pick anyway because he always sticks out a little bit more than his partner in crime Leonardo Bonucci and then cemented it with an outstanding block on Joaquin Correa, who had slipped past the back-line, shooting the gap in a hurry and simply bum-rushing the opponent. The defence gave up just one clear-cut chance, although Alvaro Morata was likely offside on that incredible whiff, even when the Colchoneros switched to a ludicrously offensive lineup, confirming that it tends to perform better when under pressure. Wojciech Szczesny is oozing confidence these days and did not have to do too much, while the duo of fullbacks for the evening, Danilo and Mattia De Sciglio, did not mess anything up but rarely bothered attacking, so the standard ‘compitino’. Continue reading