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Tuesday October 23 2018
Juventus step back in time

Manchester United vs Juventus was the defining fixture of the late 1990s, but Gaby McKay feels the gulf has never been bigger.

“We lost 1-0, but it could have been 10-0. It was the biggest battering I’ve ever had on a football pitch. They took us to school, boys against men. We didn’t have a proper chance in the whole match. Manchester United played ninety minutes without a shot, without a sniff of a chance. It’s the only time that happened in my 602 games.”

So said Red Devils legend Gary Neville in his 2011 autobiography. The team he was describing? Marcello Lippi’s Juventus. That match took place in Turin in 1996, but swap some names and move 22 years into the future and it could easily describe the Bianconeri’s win at Old Trafford tonight.

When the two old rivals were drawn together in Group H of the Champions League there was much discussion of the famous duels of the 1990s, when Lippi and Sir Alex Ferguson regularly pitted their wits against one another; the urbane, cigar smoking Italian and the volcanic, brilliant Scotsman.

Neither man was on the touchline last night, but what unfolded on the pitch harkened back to the early days of those famous duels.

From the first whistle Juventus controlled proceedings, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci knocking the ball around between them like two 19th Century aristocrats enjoying a particularly placid game of lawn tennis. Over on the croquet pitch, Rodrigo Bentancur and Miralem Pjanic strolled merrily to-and-fro, Blaise Matuidi snarling around them to deter any intruders.

What was billed as a titanic tussle was barely even a contest, and when Paulo Dybala converted the only goal of the game it looked as though it was simply a question of how many Juventus would score.

That they managed only one was in part due to an improved second half performance from Jose Mourinho’s side, and perhaps more down to some sloppy second half play from the visitors. A few dropped passes in the final 20 minutes will be of concern to Coach Massimiliano Allegri, but in truth Manchester United created nothing, their best chance coming via a long-range Paul Pogba effort which cannoned off the post and then Wojciech Szczesny’s head.

Strangely, the man of the hour, Cristiano Ronaldo, was rather quiet. Instead the most impressive attacking player was his strike partner, Dybala, whose movement and intelligence bamboozled the United defence for the first hour of the match.

After that 1996 match, Neville described Alessandro Del Piero as “a class act, so sharp and elusive and intelligent”, but he could easily have been talking about Dybala, who showed guile and finesse which none of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford or Romelu Lukaku could come close to on the night.

Ferguson’s Manchester United would go on to match Juventus, eventually surpassing them on the way to a famous treble in 1999. The fact Jose Mourinho spent the final few minutes goading the visiting Bianconeri about his own treble, achieved eight years ago, said much about the direction of travel for the two contemporary sides.

Have your say...
If the trio up top would have been Ronaldo - mandzukic - Dybala i think there would be more goals. Mandzukic is perfect for the other 2 because he brings something else.
on the 1st November, 2018 at 10:29pm
Ronaldo only played one game in cl though lol and last season i dont remember him banging in goals for madrid in the group stage either.
on the 29th October, 2018 at 3:01pm
Agree @Juve Kenya, ironically, they have the most ruthless striker in Europe for sometime now, but still can't utilize him properly. In a game where they dominated and had numerous chances, Ronaldo not scoring or being at the end of most of their chances is worrying.. Mr Allegri. And speaking of good number 10s, why can't a technically brilliant Dybala be one? Allegri has been pushed into the uncharted waters of attacking football since the arrival of Cr7, and looks quite uncomfortable.
on the 28th October, 2018 at 7:05am
Well done Bianconeri! Forza Juve! 'Fino alla Fine'
on the 25th October, 2018 at 9:01pm
This game highlighted juve's weaknesses. Juve's lack of lroper decision making in the final third needs remedying as well as a ruthless out and out striker. We need a conventional number 10 and an out and out striker like Icardi. We may have to sell dybala to get an undiscovered South American number 10 and buy Icardi with his buy out clause still intact. Dybala is super talented but lacks mental strength.
on the 25th October, 2018 at 9:10am
Juventus looked like a CL finals team in the 1st half. The sloppy play and misplaced passes in the 2nd half will be punished by better teams. The last 30 minutes were infuriating, giving the ball away, blind passes to the middle of the field, etc.
At that point only Sandro and Dybala we’re willing and able to bring it forward. Max setting the team up and attacking the opposition is usually spot on, but he has to let us kill them off. 1-0’s do not get you the CL cup! Scudettos - Yes, BIG EAR—NO
on the 25th October, 2018 at 8:21am
BOSS has officially gone into retirement lol

He was slagging off Italian teams for losing/drawing a few pointless summer friendlies against epl teams, but there's been no sign of him since they've lost 3 in a row to Serie A sides, with United and Liverpool in Juve's and Napoli's back pockets.
on the 25th October, 2018 at 5:20am
I like the confidents we showed in this game but honestly speaking I think Man U
look like they were petrified to attack and completely inept up front, Juve played very well, but Man U has regressed under Mou, it was truly appalling to watch a team of their caliber counter attack at HOME, Juve should have done more to add thier lead with all that possesion, on the positive we moved the ball well the true test will come when we see them take on a top team in form
on the 25th October, 2018 at 3:40am
Juve are playing with more confidence than any time I’ve seen them before. Ronaldo is the new reference point of the team and he’s playing a great role in transmitting that confidence to the team. It’s not about goals, slick moves or any of that. He’s just a serial winner and that’s what Juve lacked. All due respect to Buffon, he wasn’t and he was that point of reference in prior seasons.

Bonucci’s passing range + Cancelo’s well-rounded game are enabling Juve to play a much more assured game out of the back. In games likes this Pjanic would have to drop and play as a libero almost because neither of the 4 backs of last season knew how to pass the ball forward. This problem is now solved. Cancelo looks like he has what it takes to be the best right back in the world. He tends to slow down in the second half (lack of stamina it seems he doesn’t know how to distribute his effort across 90 minutes), but otherwise the kid has it all and will only get better. Player of the season so far in my opinion.

Up front Juve still look a bit dyslexic since they haven’t yet found a best formation. Dybala and Ronaldo don’t play well off each other- this could be a problem or a matter of time to establish chemistry. Bernardeschi has looked like a far better foil for Ronaldo. There are a lot of options and Allegri knows how to put a ‘best’ formation game by game. As long as it brings results no one can complain.

Juve have what it takes to go all the way this season. The three new starter signings have all given Juve a new dimension.
on the 24th October, 2018 at 11:36pm
@Ravanelli you're right to be. I don't see the real change in intention. When a champion in the making smells blood they go for the kill. Whereas the fear factor is still at large as we are afraid of making the slightest mistake and seeing out a 1-0 lead is considered to be a massive achievement against an ineffective fallen giant.
on the 24th October, 2018 at 11:19pm
It was a good display by Juve but I'm very wary of this newly-found over confidence.

The past 3 seasons it was "we need to play with humility, we hope to go as far as possible, we are not Real Madrid"

to "we aim to win the CL this year, CL is our objective".

This drastic shift in tone makes me worry a little bit.
on the 24th October, 2018 at 4:51pm
"Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci knocking the ball around between them like two 19th Century aristocrats enjoying a particularly placid game of lawn tennis."
on the 24th October, 2018 at 3:48pm
Not having Manzu yesterday certainly hurt the team going forward, but still Juve looked incredibly strong until around 75th min when they started looking like the old Juve, and gave away a lot of possession. It should also be noted that De Gea is the only reason Man U had any hope going into the second half. Juve could have (and probably should have) scored at least one more during the first half.
on the 24th October, 2018 at 2:13pm
This is the best Juve I have seen in a long time. They dominated Man Utd at Old Trafford and finally look like an elite level team. Just wait until the attack gels.
on the 24th October, 2018 at 1:21pm
Yes Juve were superb but they were not clinical around the pen area.Against a real team and not dire rubbish like Man U they will have to do better.Ron still not the Ron he was at Real.
on the 24th October, 2018 at 12:26pm
would never be 10-0. Italian teams, Juve in particular, wouldnt know how to kill a situation if it was presented to them.

Great Juve performance. The kind of game where Juve had a man available in every space. But, come the 75th min, we saw the real -step back in time- Italians who think 1 up is enough, let ManU press forward while Juve fell back. Kill these games off once and for all.
on the 24th October, 2018 at 11:29am
Have to be honest, while Man United are not in the best shape right now, Juventus are looking like the favourites for the UCL this season. This and the game against Valencia for starters shows how they've overcome their shortcomings against difficult teams that they would normally draw at best. The way they're playing right now compared to the likes of Barca, Real and Bayern, and with Ronaldo in the side, this is their best opportunity to win the competition.
on the 24th October, 2018 at 11:07am
United are a B team. Its important Juventus won convincinly yesterday. It makes them think they are better than they really are.
on the 24th October, 2018 at 10:49am
Manchester parked their team bus in front of goal a few times, afraid to play. They're sitting 10th in the EPL. Juve should have crushed them. Fingers crossed for that crushing next month.
on the 24th October, 2018 at 10:44am
Great performance overall but I think the team needs to play with an out and out striker and they only have one. I do think this lack of cover could be an issue going forward.
on the 24th October, 2018 at 10:09am
This victory was as sweet as they come. I've been waiting for almost 20 miserable years to see us beat United and finally it happened. After Inter, they're probably the team I dislike the most.

It's a shame that we couldn't win by a three or four goal margin, but it doesn't matter. I loved watching the way we utterly dominated them in their own yard. Hope we can put three or four past them in the home leg.
on the 24th October, 2018 at 8:44am

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