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Saturday January 12 2019
Juventus could win it all

Max Allegri learned, the squad has more experience and in theory Juventus have everything it takes to win the Champions League, writes Daryl Hammond.

Down 3-1 to Real Madrid in the 2017 Champions League Final and glancing over to his bench, Massimiliano Allegri may have realised for the first time just how far off his side were from winning the Champions League.

As Gareth Bale, Alvaro Morata and Marco Asensio trotted on for Los Blancos, the Italian could only look to Mario Lemina and Juan Cuadrado, the latter later seeing red in his brief time on the pitch.

A year later, Cristiano Ronaldo added to his two goals in the Final with his 97th-minute penalty knocking Juventus out at the quarter-final stage.

But times change. Their tormentor is now their team-mate, and with well over €100m spent, Juve may feel they finally have the talent and experience to win their first European Cup in over two decades.

With two Final appearances and seven straight Serie A titles, the wait should not be this long. As evidenced by record-breaking unbeaten and winning runs in recent seasons, they are consistent, hard to beat and have a squad deeper than most.

To win the Champions League those factors are important, sure. But the nature of cup competition places greater emphasis on other factors, such as the draw, luck, swift in-game adjustments, clutch players and their performances. Many of which have not gone in favour of the Bianconeri in recent campaigns. 

Still it is also very much true that the team with Cristiano Ronaldo have won the trophy in each of the last three seasons. 

Many of the competition’s goal-scoring records belong to him, as do five Champions League winners’ medals won with two different clubs.

Much in the same way Juve are more than just CR7, their potential success does not lay solely on his shoulders. 

While Ronaldo was instrumental in Real’s 2017-18 run  as the competition’s top scorer, he did not find the net in either semi-final or the Final itself. Instead, they fell back on the contributions of maligned figures Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale to see them through. 

Similarly, Lionel Messi did not score in the 2015 Final against the Old Lady, but Luis Suarez and Neymar did. Juve will need the perennial stars that surround Ronaldo to step up if he has an off night. 

Mario Mandzukic has already shown the innate ability to be a gamechanger when it matters, scoring a stunning bicycle-kick against Barcelona. Few players have Champions League Final and World Cup Final goals on their CV. 

Paulo Dybala’s resume is far less accomplished. While Mandzukic dazzled in Cardiff, the Argentine disappointed. Clearly talented, he has had problems with consistency, and has not showed up in big games. He scored only once in eight Champions League appearances last season, and did not score against any top four side in Serie A. Moreover, he was foolishly sent off against Real Madrid.

But even if any of Juve’s forwards are struggling for form, the bench may bring better fortune. Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi are both talented players who with their pace and trickery offer something few else on the pitch do.

Across the board changes in the past few years have been beneficial. The return of Leonardo Bonucci is a positive move overall, though his game is perhaps more error-strewn that fans would like.

Injury prone Claudio Marchisio and Kwadwo Asamoah have been replaced with Blaise Matuidi, Emre Can and Rodrigo Bentancur.

It is not a terribly young squad, but one that can compete now. And that experience helps, not only for the players, but a Coach who is always learning.

He has shown greater ability to adapt and take heed of mistakes, as evidenced by comeback wins against Tottenham and Real Madrid in last year’s competition after unfavourable first legs.

Allegri has the squad to win every trophy on offer. How he uses the tools at his disposal will determine how much they win.

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Have your say...
The attack must gel. So far Juve have been winning, but mostly by individual sparks. This is to be done by winning matches up to the CL final, along with other "practice" games in the Serie A and Coppa in the 2nd half of the campaign, as were the cases with previous seasons with ever-changing teams on hand. If this is achieved with CR7, the rest would be all taken care of.
on the 19th January, 2019 at 5:08am
Juve sitting back after taking the lead? That is nothing new. Nothing to do with Allegri. I am not sure why, but this is one of the things we fan has to endure supporting Juve.
on the 16th January, 2019 at 12:33pm
The biggest adversary Italian teams face in europe are referees, not any other team. Whilst it has always been that way and continues to do so, last season was an actual joke. It comes as no surprise that UEFA would rather higher profile players in latter stages of the competitions, possibly Juve's main incentive in signing CR7, he has gone from being a protected species at Real Madrid to an actual target for officials-his red card V Valencia emphasises that. Thats the biggest obstacle they face
on the 15th January, 2019 at 2:43am
@Cetateanu

He never said it ended 3-1, he said "Down 3-1.. As Gareth Bale, Alvaro Morata and Marco Asensio trotted on.."
on the 14th January, 2019 at 2:35pm
They won't win the UCL while Allegri persists with the defensive / sit back approach that he seems to employ in Europe.
Juventus defense is good but not good enough to defend a narrow lead. They have a tendency to leak goals in big games.
on the 14th January, 2019 at 11:06am
They won't win the UCL while Allegri persists with the defensive / sit back approach that he seems to employ in Europe.
Juventus defense is good but not good enough to defend a narrow lead. They have a tendency to leak goals in big games.
on the 14th January, 2019 at 11:05am
Ok,here's my take..Allegri certainly deserves respect,but his negative,cautious brand of football is concerning.you get the feeling that if they had to make the final and score the opening goal,they would sit back and defend the whole game.far too much back passing.they don't kill games off.the other concern is the mind set of "we have Ronaldo,so we will automatically win it".this might cause the others to sit back. As much as I would LOVE the Champ Cup,I have reservations about this year...
on the 14th January, 2019 at 10:33am
They won't ever win the UCL when Allegri is still in charge.
on the 13th January, 2019 at 9:36am
It was 4-1 in that Champions League Final in 2017, not 3-1. And Mandzukic scored that "stunning bicycle-kick against" Real, not Barcelona. Apart from that, good points. I think the essence is that Juventus now have a deep squad, with good options in all areas. The most important thing is, by far, the "good luck" aspect. We Bianconeri just had too much bad luck... Enough, I say!
Forza Juve!
on the 13th January, 2019 at 8:58am
Not while Allegri is coach.
on the 13th January, 2019 at 8:08am
Juve can win the cup with the Big Ears, but they need to improve in they way they clear the ball out of defence.They have been very sloppy this season and better teams will punish them.I agree set pieces have been very poor,crosses are not much better.When they have the ball in attack the decision making is not that good.If they can improve these parts of the game, there is nothing to stop them.


FORZA JUVE.
on the 12th January, 2019 at 11:58pm
Good read. Our wastefulness on set pieces has been a major frustration for me considering what supposed wealth of talent we've got. While Allegri's pragmatism is admirable at times I'm not convinced he's set up the team for CL with the right approach. Pjanic is playing in a role that clearly doesn't suit him. Here's hoping Ramsey comes before summer to add further value to what is a decent squad.
on the 12th January, 2019 at 10:23pm
"Mandzukic dazzled in Cardiff"?

He scored a fine goal, but was poor otherwise, being asleep for RM's 3rd goal. Most Juve players in that 2nd-half vanished. Perhaps there was dressing room in-fighting at HT having been the better side in the 1st-half.

Juve are one of the favs, but got a very tough draw v AM that is a major hurdle.

Allegri is also to scared to finish teams off when they lead, and sitting back often comes back to bite them.

Another issue is the lack of tough games in Serie A.
on the 12th January, 2019 at 9:49pm

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