Wednesday November 6 2013
There’s life in the Old Lady

A see-sawing 2-2 draw with Real Madrid leaves Juventus’ Champions League future in an uncertain state, but still within their grasp. Luca Cetta writes.

Tuttosport asked for ‘another night like this’ referring to Juventus’ stirring 3-1 victory over Real Madrid 10 years ago in the Champions League semi-final. Meanwhile, the two sides would be doing battle five years to the day Alessandro Del Piero hit a memorable brace in the Spanish capital. Matches between Juventus and Real stir up unforgettable moments for fans of both clubs, yet for Bianconeri boss Antonio Conte their second season meeting was not about history, but a fundamental contest to aid Juve’s chance of progression.

A boisterous Juventus Stadium was treated to a pulsating affair. Both sides traded blows at certain stages. Juve were up, Real down. Real up, the Bianconeri down. What the clash between two of football’s heavyweights didn’t do was make Juve’s situation any easier. The draw means there’s still a way to go to book a spot in the last 16.

When quizzed about their system in the pre-match Press Conference, Conte retorted the key was how Juventus played, not in what shape. “What is more important than the system is the way we interpret the game, because we are playing a candidate to win the Champions League.”

It needed to be a performance of intensity, of spirit and of enthusiasm. For the opening 45 minutes those qualities were all on show. Iker Casillas – supreme throughout, despite his lack of regular playing time – was the busier of the two goalkeepers. He was throwing arms and legs at anything in his path to thwart La Vecchia Signora.

Nearing the end of a first half in which the Turin giants’ midfield dominated and its defence and forward line worked hard to nullify Real’s threats, they were finally rewarded. Paul Pogba was sliced down and Arturo Vidal confidently dispatched the resulting penalty.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side turned the tide after the interval, assisted also by Martin Caceres – who played well otherwise. An errant pass gave the men in orange a chance to equalise, one Cristiano Ronaldo did not pass up. It was the start of a dominant spell for the visitors. In it, Xabi Alonso smacked the woodwork and Gareth Bale put them ahead.

What happened to the Juventus of the opening 45 minutes? Gianluigi Buffon spoke afterwards of being wary every time Real strode forward, so perhaps they aimed to hold. Ancelotti noted half-time tweaks. Yet for Conte, tiredness was the main factor. “In the second half we suffered a little at keeping that tempo with such a packed fixture list. When the intensity drops against Real Madrid, you inevitably risk paying the price, especially when Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are running at you on the counter.”

Juve needed to bounce back and get something from the game. They did just that. Caceres redeemed himself by crossing for Fernando Llorente’s powerful header. It was the Spaniard’s second goal in consecutive European ties and further highlighted what he brings to the team.

Real controlled possession in the final stages, as both looked content with a point. Conte was generally satisfied. “I’d rate our performance very highly. The team did very well and the first half was perfect in every respect, organisation, quality and intensity.” Buffon rated the performance seven out of 10. For La Gazzetta dello Sport, it was a great Juve which took a ‘golden point.’

As the group stage reaches its climax, Juve are now drawn into a must-win situation. Currently bottom with just three points from four games, they were aided by Copenhagen’s win over Galatasaray. That keeps them alive and essentially still in control of their destiny. Victory over the Danes in three weeks would give Juventus an opening. Should Real Madrid defeat Gala, it would even leave Conte’s men in second place.

A 2-2 draw may not have been the wholly desired result last night, but it remains in Juve’s hands to finish second in Group B. They must now grasp the chance.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
Amazing how managers and the like get millions but cannot seem to do the basic stuff of knowing your opponents' weakness. RM are terrible with crosses so what does Juventus do when they have corner kicks, they pass the ball to Tevez or whomever that comes short. Were they nuts? How did they get their 2nd goal? Oh yeah a cross that Varane messed up. I was amazed that they did not cross the ball more but instead they were trying to outplay RM. The late subs made no sense to me either.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 1:59pm
@Anonymous, who said: "Am I missing something here? Juve are winless, have 3 points after 4 games, drew at home...and the media are singing their praises?" .... It's how Juve played the game that's being praised. Sometimes the team that wins did not play the better game. When I complain about Juve losing, it's because they played like crap. I never complain when they play awesome, but still lose.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 1:34pm
What the Old Lady needs is more than 12-13 really good players. The likes of De Ceglie, Peluso, Isla etc are far from good enough to Juventus. Juve need 16-17 good players. Buy Cuadrado next summer. Then add another 200 removable seats in the one corner next to the VIP section. 41.254 is perhaps 5000 too less.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 11:25am
They should get through now.

If they don't, then they'll have themselves to blame for only having 3 points from 4 games when they really should have around 8.

All 3 Italian teams have a decent chance of going through, but none have one foot in the knockouts yet.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 11:23am
Juve passed the test by determination and RM being shocked in the first half,but in no way they are Juve of the past.They give the ball away too cheaply.Llorente was good but many times he should be more aggressive by simply trying his luck rather than being too generous of passing and being a good team member.Bonucci mistake prone and too soft.Tevez is good but needs to shape up as he is No.10 and our past No.10 never dissapointed.Good performance overall, good Juve.More work is needed!
on the 6th November, 2013 at 11:19am
I said this before, and I'll say it even now: if my team can't beat kopenhagen, they have no business doing in UCL! Because at the end when such a team draw Bayern or Barca in the last 16, they be humiliated. Therefore, I personally want juve to remain at the botton at the end of the group stage so that they come back and concentrate on the 3rd consecutive scudetti and the 30(: officially so that we can have 3 stars on top of our logo. I hate europa leaguae because it only kill your team.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 10:30am
Am I missing something here? Juve are winless, have 3 points after 4 games, drew at home...and the media are singing their praises? If this was another club there would be calls for changes.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 10:17am
As always, Good Article from Luca Cetta.
Wonderful performance form La Vecchia Signora!!
All the Best for the Rossoneri and the Azzurri tonight!!
Almost Forgot, #AllegriOut !!:)
on the 6th November, 2013 at 10:16am
Life in the old lady? I doubt there would have been much life left in Martin Caceres after that howler! Juve did well but still they are not the Juve we all know, My opinion they will get to the EUROPA league final in Turin v Fiorentina that would be a nice watch. Also if they don't give Pirlo what he wants they are as mad as Milan were! Guy was real good last night as was Pogba.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 9:44am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.