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Thursday September 19 2019
Dead balls an issue, but Juve are alive

There were more positives than negatives in Madrid, as Juventus showed Elio Salerno what they are capable of once set plays are sorted.

Juventus frailty at set-pieces cost them a memorable win away to Atletico Madrid, as Group D of the Champions League kicked off in style. The group’s top ranked teams took a while to warm-up at the Wanda Metropolitano, but after subdued first half, the fans were treated to a scintillating second.

It was Maurizio Sarri’s first outing in Europe’s elite football competition with his new club and he almost made the perfect start. The Bianconeri boss made one change from the team that played against Fiorentina at the weekend. With Douglas Costa ruled out though injury, his Colombian counterpart Juan Cuadrado stepped in.

Diego Simeone’s Atleti made the brighter start and began to test Juve in wide areas with their expansive set-up and use of long diagonal passes. It was a feature of the opening 45 minutes and saw the home side probe down the flanks, raining crosses into Wojciech Szczesny’s box.

Juventus defended in a narrow 4-4-2 and Los Rojiblancos had come prepared for, it as they positioned their full-backs in advanced positions, seeking to exploit spaces outside the Juve block. This attacking strategy was more prominent on Atleti’s left, as Renan Lodi was found on numerous occasions in acres of space. Juve new boy Danilo was being dragged inside by the clever positioning of Joao Felix and the free roaming Thomas Lemar. This smart ploy created an overload and space for Lodi, who was a constant threat in opening stages. On the opposite side, Kieran Trippier posed a similar danger when he was released following sharply executed switches of play.

To their credit, the Turin giants defended deliveries from wide areas well and began to find their feet as the first half developed. In possession, Sarri’s team resorted to his more recognisable 4-3-3. Build-up from the back was focused mainly through the right as Juve began to develop play successfully. Patient possession through the pitch allowed The Old Lady to commit bodies to attacking areas. Full-backs Alex Sandro and Danilo rotated well with the wingers ahead of them. Cristiano Ronaldo and Cuadrado were often see occupying spaces inside or dropping slightly deeper to receive the ball, allowing space outside and beyond them for their Brazilian team-mates.

Atletico rarely pressed and having weathered early attacks, Juve were building in confidence. Taking up clever positions, stretching the pitch and with numbers around the ball, the Italian Champions began to find dangerous areas, but were guilty of wasting of possession in the final third. Blaise Matuidi, Sami Khedira and Cuadrado were all at fault, as was Gonzalo Higuain, whose lack of quality movement meant he found space hard to come by.

It was all level at the break, but that would change quickly as play resumed. Sarri’s team started excellently and after Cuadrado had found the top corner following a slick counter, Juve were invigorated. Atletico Madrid started to press higher, opening spaces beyond their midfield and Juve began to find those gaps. Play was now more fluid; those stray passes from earlier on were now finding their destination and Juve looked increasingly menacing. Alex Sandro was bombing down the left and looking more like his old self, playing a key role in his team’s second goal as his cross found Matuidi to head home.

The Spanish side were never likely to go quietly, even when two goals behind, and reacted instantly. The game was now being played at a superior intensity with both sides aggressively looking for control of proceedings. It now felt a real Champions League tie between two of Europe’s top teams.

Atleti had looked threating from dead balls all night and in truth, it appeared to be their best way of finding the net. Having fired several warning shots, they pulled a goal back after dominating the Juve box from a free-kick. At 2-1 and with a little over 20 minutes to play, it felt somewhat inevitable an equaliser would come.

Having surrendered a three-goal advantage against Napoli just a couple of weeks ago, Sarri and his team will hope that this early inability to hold on to a lead is just part of their growing pains in this new era. Hector Herrera’s stoppage time leveller will have come as a blow and will leave a bittersweet feeling.

There were certainly more positives then negatives in the Spanish capital. The second half performance gave an insight into the potential of Sarri’s Juve. Captain Leo Bonucci was at his dominant best. It was a throwback display from Bonucci, who has come under heavy criticism for his performances in the last two seasons, but he deserves praise for the way he intelligently led the game. Miralem Pjanic was the standout midfield player as he continues to enjoy his adjustment under Sarri and there will also be hope that Alex Sandro can continue in this form.

To come away from this tough opener disappointed with a draw says a lot about what Juve achieved in Madrid. There are undoubtedly aspects to work on and improve, but they will take a point and look to build on the positives as they head home to prepare for Verona at the weekend.

Have your say...
@Jeremy

Mind your own team, clown. You can leave your consideration to Sarri because right now there is only one word to describe Milan : Bunch of TRASH. Hahahahaha....
on the 22nd September, 2019 at 3:59pm
Take away as many goals as you like the fact remains this team cannot defend! The Scudetto is all Juve can hope for. Champs League is definitely not happening anytime soon.
Ronaldo has to be the luckest man in this whole team as he seems to escape criticism every week, it seems to me that which ever combination of 10 men he has with him will only ever be critised but never praised sorry but this mentality is going to be a contributing factor in this Juve teams failures.
on the 22nd September, 2019 at 3:37am
@ Anon...take out the 2 goals?? that is the problem we cant, and the three against Napoli, shipping goals left right and centre means you need to out score a team every week. Sarri hasn't got time, expectations are there to deliver trophies, people don't get time now, he won the Europa league and got Chelsea back in top 4 and was shipped out, not winning the league will be considered a failure. The play still seems too much like an Allegri team, slow, glimpses of better, but even allegri.
on the 21st September, 2019 at 1:38pm
You clowns clamering that the defense is weak under Sarri need to realize that Juve's defense is Chiellini. It was weak under Allegri when Chiellini wasn't playing. Doesn't matter who the f'ning coach is, it will be weak when he's not play. The thing that worries me still is the midfield. Although I have seen improvement from Pjanic, he's doing more with the ball now than he was as a reactionary stooge under Allegri, its still very much looks like last years weak midfield.
on the 20th September, 2019 at 3:57pm
@Anonymous, I would argue that Sarri's Napoli had a superior midfield, in Hamsik, Jorginho, and Allen, than any 3 that Juve could field right now. Conte had the best 3 in Pirlo, Vidal, & Marchisio. The forward lines were/are also very close in quality. Where Juve have had the advantage, up until now,is the steel and experience at the back and how that steel radiated throughout the team. But you're right, it's crazy to cast judgement on the team & Sarri right now.
on the 20th September, 2019 at 10:45am
3/2 that it takes a couple of months for this team to be totally adapted to Sarri's methods are deluded!! It'll be at earliest January before we start to see something resembling a Sarri team. If the players listen to him then we can really do great things this season. Have some patience and think back to the reactive football of Allegri....you people really want that again? Give Sarri time, stop overreacting, accept that it's a building process and just calm down please.
on the 20th September, 2019 at 8:14am
2/2 first time away to Atletico because they clearly aren't ready yet - look at what happened to De Ligt vs Napoli. Also, Ramsey did come on and his very poor positioning defensively led to space opening on right hand side which led to the corner for their 2nd goal. This Juve will be a great one mark my words. Sarri played amazing stuff with Napoli with a squad that player for player was worse in almost every position than the Juve one under Allegri. People who think that it takes a couple of
on the 20th September, 2019 at 8:11am
1/2 Wow the level of negativity here is embarrassing from some Juve fans - Sarri has had NO TIME YET. He's been on bench for TWO GAMES!!! That was a good enough performance vs Atletico - take out the 2 goals conceded from set pieces and its a 2 0 win. Compare this game to what we did on previous occasions in Madrid, it's a vast improvement and haven't even introduced Rabiot, Ramsey or Dybala yet and were missing Costa and Chiellini. And no obviously Sarri won't start Ramsey or Rabiot for the
on the 20th September, 2019 at 8:08am
even though juve drew is till like the football played. I lke the mentality that when we were leading 2-1 we still went forward looking to score the 3rd goal. set pieces I just feel we need to be more aggressive in winning the headers. to me we lost 2 defensive giants on set pieces in mandzukic and Chiellini. the whole squad needs to be aggressive when defending set pieces.
on the 20th September, 2019 at 6:51am
@Buddha Baggio, Juventus are not run by Zamparini or Palotta. Sarri is only 4 games into his reign: both he & the the players are still finding their feet & he has been unlucky with injuries. The good news for them is that they have avoided defeat & have scored a lot of goals. I fancy them to go up another level or two over the coming months. As much as I would like to see a different champion this season, I still think that they are the firm favourites.
on the 19th September, 2019 at 11:16pm
Dmriral is better then Banuci.
on the 19th September, 2019 at 8:39pm
Juve's lost its identity & balance hence we r coming unstuck in getting results. The defence is poor & hasn't been strong for at least 2 seasons now. Bonucci is a good passer but is poor CB, period, we've wasted too much time on him. I still hope Rugani can push through to partner Deligt (wish we hadn't parted with Caldara, injury issues aside at Milan, he could have grown into this team; hopeless transfer business by Juve). In attack we were far better pre Ronaldo with Dybala leading our line.
on the 19th September, 2019 at 8:27pm
Still very early but I am only one who thinks Sarri won’t make it to end of season ?
As great as Juve is and has been dominating in Serie A and with their all star roster they’re still far from where they could or should be.
The CR7 factor can’t be overlooked. Look at how he improved Real... now look at Real without him.
Sarri needs to do his homework, drop his superstitions, and play fifa.
on the 19th September, 2019 at 5:50pm
I so admire southern-Italian film producer sponsoring northern-Italian car maker with last-season Napoli blue-white kits...
on the 19th September, 2019 at 5:35pm
Juve-Napoli
3:0
Khedira OFF
3:3 (consequently 4:3 by chance)

Atleti-Juve
0:2
Khedira OFF
2:2

Coincidence? I think not lol
on the 19th September, 2019 at 2:04pm
Also after the friendly I remember how many people were saying this looks like Atleti's year etc an that Juve looked overrated. Seemed to me like Atltei is the overrated one. Juve played semi decent and still walked away with share of pts
on the 19th September, 2019 at 12:47pm
As much as I cannot stand Khedira and Matuidi starting, let's be real. There were 3 big games already and we cannot just throw new people in like that. I do think they could have played against Parma perhaps. against Napoli we threw DeLigt in the deep end and it showed he needs time. I expect by Nov we will see less of Khedira in starting 11
on the 19th September, 2019 at 12:43pm
Dead balls is rather apt considering that there are no real men in the Juventus defence, no one to put their head (hmmm) where it hurts. How we miss Giorgio and his rugged charms!!
on the 19th September, 2019 at 11:07am
So far the Sarri experiment is not working, still feels like an Allegri team, but with poorer defensive ability, some good moments but not slick. The midfield is a disaster, slow and uninspired, time to introduce these new players. Ronaldo must get frustrated at poor supply, I know I have been, poor decision making too.I envisage a trophy-less season, and yet again Italian teams make a poor showing in Europe (except Napoli, well done)
on the 19th September, 2019 at 9:31am
I suppose my question is.

As a neutral.

Why is Sarri picking eg Khedira and Matuidi over Rabiot and Ramsey- and even disregarding Bentancur and Can?

Higuain has his uses but to get the optimium you'd need him as a reserve- 2 out of Bernardeschi, Costa and perhaps most exciting of all, Dybala up in and around Ronaldo?

Could Demiral or even Rugani due to age help to bring about a higher line?

Also, Atletico more attacking and braver in possession than usual I thought.
on the 19th September, 2019 at 9:00am
Sarri's idea of zonal marking is a joke, as has been proven too many times already this season. Time to man-mark !!!!
on the 19th September, 2019 at 1:28am
Juve played well, I think they were the better team which surprised me. You can see the difference in the playing style with Sarri. I think Sarri's system could improve Juve further. But Im still not convinced with Juve. The midfield is still an issue, that was not solved. The goal is wining the champions league, I see them failing again this year.
on the 19th September, 2019 at 1:18am

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