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Thursday February 21 2019
Cholo schools Juve in Champions League

Max Allegri and Juventus proved they’ve learned nothing, as Diego Simeone put on a Champions League tactical masterclass, writes Elio Salerno.

A trip to the Wanda Metropolitano to face Diego Simone’s Atletico Madrid is a daunting prospect, but now with Cristiano Ronaldo, there was no venue or team in Europe that Juventus – supposedly – could not handle.

Following Wednesday night’s game, that could not be further from the truth. A 2-0 first-leg defeat is nothing short of a disaster, an embarrassed Juve will return to Turin attempting to figure out how to turn this tie around.

It was a cagey first half, both teams attempted to lock out the game and restrict their opponent at any given moment. Atleti were typically disciplined and tenacious, pressing and snapping into tackles while Max Allegri’s team appeared happy to contain their hosts, playing safely in possession in an attempt to see the half out quietly.

However, the second period was a different story, with Allegri’s team finding the onslaught from the Rojiblancos too much handle. Conceding two set-piece goals will come as a huge disappointment to Allegri and his defence, but in truth the home side should have already been ahead.

Fingers will be pointed, harsh criticism directed toward the Italian champions will be fully warranted. Discussions around this performance will rage on for weeks. Ultimately, it came down to the battle on the sidelines with the Argentine tactician reigning supreme. There were undoubtedly below par individual performances from the Juventus players, but the game swung towards Atleti with their substitutions. Simeone was bold, brave and was duly rewarded for his positivity with his opposite number only choosing to react once the damage was done.

The introduction of Alvaro Morata, Thomas Lemar and Angel Correa changed the home side’s dynamic.  Atletico’s intensity increased, a shift to a more orthodox 4-4-2 with wingers left Juve flustered and unable to respond. Already struggling to progress play through the pitch, the removal of Miralem Pjanic for Emre Can did nothing to help matters, Allegri’s team were being swamped.  Now two quick-fire goals in the last 15 minutes has left Juve’s dream of lifting the trophy with the big ears in tatters.

It all crumbled so quickly and a deflected second goal off their superstar summer signing, who was supposed to help make their Champions League dream become a reality, just rubbed salt in the wounds.

There has been unrest for some time amongst the Bianconeri faithful over their style of play. Performances have been hard to watch, with many asking if Allegri is the right man to take them forward. This result will only fuel the doubters and increase the calls for him to be shown the door come the end of the season.

The pieces of the puzzle just didn’t fit for the game in Spain, so leaving out one of the team’s most creative players in Joao Cancelo will certainly be questioned. Mattia De Sciglio was deployed at right-back to provide stability, but in possession he was a passenger. The Italian international would often come inside when his team had possession, with either Paulo Dybala or Rodrigo Bentancur providing width on the right, a role that suits neither, leaving Juve’s play disjointed. La Joya was horribly ineffective, his role in this team is becoming increasingly questionable. 

This was just one part of the problem. Pjanic was isolated in midfield, Blaise Matuidi’s energy was nullified by opponents that could match him, while Mario Mandzukic was gobbled up by the fantastic Diego Godin and ruthless Jose Maria Gimenez. Alex Sandro’s display will go down as one of the worst by a Juventus player in recent memory and fortunately he’s suspended for the second leg.

Juventus needed a goal in Madrid, and with just over an hour gone Allegri watched on as Simone grabbed the game by the horns. The introduction of Federico Bernardeschi and Joao Cancelo came too late, both should have arguably started the game. The dynamism, variety and creativity they provide could have been the key to not only matching Atletico, but unlocking them and snatching that all-important away goal. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but reports earlier this week were of Allegri deploying a 4-4-2. What a difference a confident move like that could have made.

Allegri is undoubtedly one of the world’s top Coaches and this defeat is not solely on his shoulders. After everything he has achieved over the last few seasons, he deserves praise and respect, but while he can be credited as the man that made Juventus relevant in Europe again, it is somewhat ironic that he could also be responsible for their downfall on the same stage.

Stranger things have happened in football, but it is unlikely we will see Ronaldo and co return to Madrid for June’s final.

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Have your say...
Allegri is an exceptional coach* but he really frustrated me against AM. He should have swapped Dybala earlier when Dyb pushed wide and was being ineffective as always out there. Given their poor midfield players available, it was clear they needed a 4-man midfield in 2nd half. Not the right time to have zero defense Dybala and Ronaldo on either flank. So damn frustrating. *poor coaches don't take AC Milan to scudetto or Juve (annual profit of Tottenham) to CL finals 2 out of 4 years
on the 24th February, 2019 at 10:08pm
Roma's midfield of child youths and Napoli's midfield of foreign discount buys are better than Juve's. Would anyone here honestly start Pjanic over Zaniolo or Allan? Ounas/Zielinski/Pellegrini/Cristante - Take your pick cuz they're all better than #1 choice starter old fogey Khedira. Matuidi's a decent utility player. Can't finish but he fights with every last breath. He's the only winner of the bunch.
on the 24th February, 2019 at 9:52pm
I realize he was sick, but Juve's midfld gem Pjanic is terrible in big matches. He can't peel away and beat his man to create space.

He is a fantastic passer when he has space but that doesn't happen vs quality opposition. Sell him to Barca for 70mil and bring in Isco. Should have done it in summer. Dybala can't play wide. So sick of seeing him play there v. RM CL Final and now against AM. Swap for Pogba.

Pogba - Isco - Bentancur = Pure steel. Instant CL FINALS
on the 24th February, 2019 at 9:36pm
It was inevitable. Yet another poor and fearful performance from Juve. Once again, they have to rely on heroics, luck and god knows what to get through (If they get through). Are these the hallmarks of a club serious about winning UCL? Juve have their work cut out. AM will defend their 2-0 adv with their lives. Why does it always have to be like this? I know its easy to blame the coach but I really have to blame Allegri.
on the 24th February, 2019 at 8:54pm
3/3 Which is why they never can win UCL, unlike Milan & Inter, when they were Scudetto winners! There is justice, you know - the Atletico match this last UCL round was the best example!

I've heard the FIGC are contemplating the idea of cutting down the league to 18 teams, in order to "increase the competition & not have only Juve wining!” NO! That's NOT THE SOLUTION! Just look at the teams from the bottom half, how equal they are (with exception of Chievo), only 4 points separating 6, 7 teams!
on the 24th February, 2019 at 6:46am
2/3 Last year's 35th round, when they were only a point ahead of Napoli, and played their match against Inter in Milano (whilst Napoli Vs Fiorentina) was the best example how refs are favoring Rubentus. By giving that silly straight red to Inter (I believe it was Vecino), and then, even more, when they gave A SHAMEFUL straight red to Koulibaly in Florence in the 16th minute, so that Napoli wouldn't win the title! That's how you break the other clubs' ambitions & disgrace the league! That's why I
on the 24th February, 2019 at 6:45am
1/3 Too bad Rubentus have robbed so many games till now (at least 7, 8 points), or rather the refs, that gave them at least 3 wins (when it should've been a draw), and at least 2 draws, when they should've lost! That's the only reason how come they're so far ahead on the table! It's the only reason why they're Champions for the 8the season in a row! When FIGC will finally decide to clear their ref organisation and stop forcing Rubentus, then, we'd have much more diverse Calcio, then we had these
on the 24th February, 2019 at 6:44am
Disappointing, yet I am not suprised with the result. Juve have failed to fulfill their potential in the CL this season. At best they have been underwhelming. Not over yet though and with the second leg in Turin to come, Juve's European reputation is on the line. They will need something very special to overcome a difficult opponent like Atletico Madrid. The big question is, if Juve lose this tie, which I think they will, is time up for Allegri?
on the 23rd February, 2019 at 2:28pm
Didn't see the game but really disappointed with the result. This was the acid test for the new Juve. A win would have sent shockwaves through Europe. Having said this, I can see something happening in the second leg. A goal in the first half will have AM worried and I don't think they do nearly as well on the road. Lucky Madrid and the other Spanish sides continue to thrive while Italian teams seem to lack that winning guile, so prevalent in the past. Here's hoping for a small slice of fortuna.
on the 23rd February, 2019 at 12:40pm
The excuses on here.... give me a break. Pitiful.

I'll admit, results wise Juve have been in top 5 (my Michelin rated ratings I did in my bedroom) teams in Europe for 8 years now.

No doubt about that. Top 5 teams in Europe over those 8 years = RM, Barca, Juve, BM, AM. No epl team in top 5 because despite the hype, they're just not good enough.

Now Juve are making excuses like the rest of you! Get real people!

I'm just glad I have no job to go to, I'm up all night trying to teach you lot!
on the 23rd February, 2019 at 3:21am
CORRECTION
My Michelin 5* rating are a bit off now that I look back on this season.

City have been poor this season (even worse than Juve)and scraped a fortunate win the other night and got outplayed by Lyon twice. They'll be hammered by the first proper team they meet because the epl offers no resistance to them. That's why their goal-diff is so huge in epl - the teams below them are awful.

PSG have same problem and will fold when they meet a far better team than awful Man Unt. RM poor too.
on the 23rd February, 2019 at 3:09am
@John Smith. You are bland,just like your name.

My mother's 2nd husband was called John Smith too and we didn't get along. Hence we won't either.

Simple enough John.
on the 23rd February, 2019 at 3:01am
@Anonymous 1:59 am: When you hide behind the Anonymous monicker it doesn't show a lot of wits and judgment. Talking about trophies which one are you talking about? Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italia, Birra Moretti, Uefa Cup, Intertoto Cup? Of course every team would like to have all those useless trophies instead of the seven Champions League cups Milan have...Why don't you think before talking.
on the 23rd February, 2019 at 2:13am
.....The funny thing is...... we have a 2nd leg and 'dare i say it' remember the Real Madrid game??????
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 9:43pm
Juve do not have quality players which includes Ronaldo, there only saviors are an aging defense. Starpower does not win these games. In italy they barely scrape buy with officiating and VAR help. Italians need to support other teams like Roma, Napoli, Milan and lower teams like Spal, Cagliari, Atalanta, etc. Those are the teams with the tru talented players but dont bring in the money as top teams.
In the end Money rules all and this is why we are were we are.
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 7:43pm
Ronaldo overrated, there are far superior players then him. He is as they say in America a marketing golden goose other then that Real has stolen many championships including last 2 CL with offside goals and so on. Apart from that Juve will crash out as usual as many comments mentioned; in Italy they are helped along and that comes to roost when you have to grind it out and play hard.
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 7:39pm
@ anonymous "morata pushed chiellini" wow. i'll show you what a push looks like. pathetic.
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 7:39pm
Serie A isnt week - Napoli were unlucky in their group... Roma were unlucky not to reach final last season - apart from Madrid no one has been in more finals in the last 4 years than Juve. PSG havent made it past last 16 in years. Allegri had no game plan, to many gaps in midfield so it wasn't defensive & no attacks worth noting so it wasn't attacking, yet he said they needed a goal? Allegri messed up. Bonucci's dive changed the game, 2-0 was fair but never a penalty & Morata pushed Chellini!
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 3:56pm
Sick and tired of this notion that we should all support Juve in Europe because its somehow bad for the league if they struggle. Our coefficient is miles ahead of France so our 4th spot is not in danger. Why should I support the team that gets favourable calls every other week in the league and whose fans are the most arrogant I've ever seen constantly reminding us all how we're haters because the mighty Juventus keep winning in Italy. Im glad they'll never win in Europe. Losers.
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 2:13pm
The excuses on here.... give me a break. Pitiful. Juventus were, or are unlucky.... Juventus were suffering with the flu. The writing's been on the wall for a long time. The team plays terrible football. The reason why they're are doing well in Italy is because kmart stsndard of opposition. I will admit that they have one or two good players, but what good is that when they have a coach that is packing a pair of shriveled raisins in his y fronts. Get real people!!
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 11:56am
The excuses on here.... give me a break. Pitiful. Juventus were, or are unlucky.... Juventus were suffering with the flu. The writing's been on the wall for a long time. The team plays terrible football. The reason why they're are doing well in Italy is because kmart stsndard of opposition. I will admit that they have one or two good players, but what good is that when they have a coach that is packing a pair of shriveled raisins in his y fronts. Get real people!!
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 11:56am
@John Smith, bland response from a bland name. You have to try harder and at least counter my points, that is if you are capable of it. See me after class.
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 11:48am
@Anonymous, you should be thankful, Rafael was over generous. Juventus are no longer the bridesmaids of Europe, that would imply that they are always second best. That simply is not the case. They are not that good. Over the past two seasons I would label them the dodgy caterers, because what they have served up is only a little better than a knock off pot noodle. They are a long way off 5* Michelin Madrid, Barca, and this season, PSG and City.
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 11:45am
Just stop buying refs in either Serie A and Europe (if not, it would be 4-0 for ATM already), this is the only way to help juve players and the League. Fair play is the only way make you grow.

It is impossible to beat ATM by physicality, that's common sense.

Stats: In Europe, ATM won 2-0 in 1st leg, percentage for advance is 100%. (by FootballItalia)
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 10:01am
@be postive
This whole team had flu symptoms.
Leave Ronaldo on the bench and bring him on in last 30mins.
Without him on the pitch they are forced to play together which is what this team needs asn when they are at their strongest. They can bring on 'jesus' with 30mins to go and then focus on the game plan of passing EVERY SINGLE THING through him for 30mins so he can get his goal with 10men working for him to score so he can grab the front pages and be the hero.
Sad but true.
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 8:14am
@Anonymouso
Have absolutely no idea what you are rambling on about but how did you get so much written in 1 box? Tell 'Juve Fan' because he has taken up an a whole blog to tell us what you did about sacking Allegri.
@Dennis
Keep dreaming. Atleti know that to stop Juve you have to just mark Ronaldo. Juve have gone from little variety of play to absolutely nothing except pass the ball to Ronaldo. As soon as the rest of Serie A wakes up to this Juve won't win a title or cup again.
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 7:58am
If Mandzukic doesn't get crosses in the box he's totally useless as attacking threat. He can defend and head the ball. Consequently he did "NOTHING" in this game because Sandro and Bentancur were completely shutdown on the flanks forcing Juve to play through the middle which is their weak spot. Why would u play Mandzu who's strength is defending and arial against a team like Atleti? Or pair him with Dybala who's strength is quick feet with the ball? Juve really do need a new coach.
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 4:31am
Wow rafael you thought about that comment all on your own. Never heard anything like that before. Thanks for the new info hahahahah anyway would you like a job shining our trophies? Therr are so many now i am sure we can squeeze you in. Its going to be more productive than whatever you weirdos are writing here.
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 1:59am
plain and simple its time for allegri to go. They need to clean house at the top and the entire approach of this team needs to be changed. We have such a defensive/defeatist attitude its insane. No attacking creativity. Playing defensive all the time and just hoping to have one or two chance to score. I cant recall one time when allegri made a difference and helped win us the game. With the gap in talent in Serie A, a lamp could coach this team and still win.
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 1:05am
Juve played a bad game on all fronts. Nobody took charge, they were truly outclassed in every position. I feel our biggest problem is the Midfield, except Pjanic who was experiencing flu symptoms. I think the only way they can win is if everyone plays their hearts out and somehow magically win 4:1 in Turin. Nothing is impossible, but they have to be a different team to show anything. Athletico will play they same game they played in Madrid, it's up to Allegri to find a game plan and brake them.
on the 22nd February, 2019 at 12:57am

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