Wednesday December 11 2013
Hell froze over for Juventus

Juventus were eliminated from the Champions League following their bizarre final Group B clash away at Galatasaray. Luca Cetta reviews the action.

Going into a big match you hope for any omen or advantage over your opponent. Juventus were hoping their clash in Istanbul against Roberto Mancini’s Galatasaray would end in a similar manner to their last do-or-die European group encounter 12 months ago against Shakhtar Donetsk. Instead, the Bianconeri were dealt a card similar to the one experienced in Perugia 13 years ago, that fateful final day of the 1999-2000 Serie A season.

It will go down as one of the most chaotic Champions League contests of all time. The action at the Turk Telekom Arena verged towards the realms of Test cricket, with play spread over multiple days. It was Galatasaray versus Juventus, versus the elements. On Tuesday the snow fell. And fell. Play did commence, but after further snow and hail, the game was halted just past the half hour mark.

During those 30 minutes Juventus looked comfortable against a Gala outfit which needed to take maximum points. The hosts - playing in front of their typically fervent home support - mustered little to worry Gianluigi Buffon, while Fernando Llorente had Juve’s best chance.

Play was expected to be halted temporarily. As the groundsmen cleared the pitch, the match was abandoned. Determining a restart time for Wednesday was something of a calamity in itself. UEFA decided a time, only to then be told by local police to shift it back an hour.

The groundsmen chopped up the pitch in clearing the snow and come the resumption of play, it was even worse than when the abandonment was called. It looked a potato field in some sections, the ball often stuck in the mud. How play was allowed to resume is something only UEFA can answer. The governing body should be held accountable for 60 minutes of football more suited to amateur level proceedings. Their handling of the situation was fittingly amateurish.

“We certainly tried to have the game postponed and met with the UEFA delegate beforehand, but nobody wanted to listen,” stated Antonio Conte afterwards. “Roberto Mancini said it was dangerous and I agreed with him, I said ‘I think so.’ I don’t think my English is that bad...”

For what football could be played, it called for an hour of determination and concentration. Both sides were cagey, understandably so, once play resumed for the final 15 minutes of the first half. Neither wanted to make a mistake that would equal an even greater challenge after the interval.

Juve could rely on nabbing a draw and qualifying. Gala had to go for it. They did so with greater attacking intent in the second half, nonetheless the Bianconeri stood firm and aside from one fine Buffon save, were not really tested. That was until Wesley Sneijder was on the end of Didier Drogba’s knockdown to score with five minutes remaining. Gala advance with seven points, Juve drops down to the Europa League with six. For the Turkish club it’s a great achievement. They advanced from a group containing Real Madrid and Juventus, changed Coach during the group stage and recovered from an initial 6-1 drubbing against Real.

Conte also rightly noted his side should never have been in this situation to begin with. “I will say our mistake was to get to the last game and play everything here.” Juventus can only blame themselves for sitting on two points from the opening two games. They were punished by Copenhagen on Matchday 1 and after battling from a goal down against the Turks in Turin, conceded cheaply moments later. From there it proved an uphill climb.

Once European football resumes in the new year, Juventus will be in the Round of 32 in the Europa League. The Final will be played at the Juventus Stadium, so that is certainly an aim. But it’s merely a consolation, both football-wise and financially.

No matter the circumstances, it’s an embarrassing exit and now they’ll have to make-do with the poorer European cousin.

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Have your say...
As a juve fan I have no sympathy for them. They are a crap team that are the kings of a joke of a league. Blaming the weather? Gala played on the same pitch. Oh juve didn't get to play their own style of football? Sorry conte hate to tell you but REAL champions adapt. Gala don't play in the snow everyday but they adapted and drop kicked juve' s ass out of the UCL.
on the 11th December, 2013 at 6:12pm
While I do have some sympathy with Juve fans complaining about UEFA and a few dodgey decisions I've got one word for you: Moggi. Honestly as disappointed as I am for Italian football this is actually too funny...
on the 11th December, 2013 at 6:11pm
I call it like I see it.

I will be much harsher in reprimanding juve then the posts I've seen here.

I've said for ages juventus are the kings of a crap league. When they step up to a real mans competition they struggle with teams like Copenhagen. What does this tell us? That juve have bad luck? No it tells us Italian football SUCKS when your so called champions get beaten by gala.

on the 11th December, 2013 at 6:09pm
Maldini's hair

I stand by my claim of juventus being Italy's saviour and that is based on this year and the last few years. Milan will be out in the first knock out round so don't get too excited.
on the 11th December, 2013 at 6:06pm
FRUSTRATED! It's like Piacenza all over again! I'm sure Juve would have got the result if they could play their game on a normal pitch. However, Juve left it too late and I just don't know why they are such slow movers once it comes to the Champions League? Conte was way too cautious in his approach to this competition and it's an attitude that all Italian teams seem to have with the exception of AC Milan, who seem to have an affinity with this competition. Shame because we're better than that!
on the 11th December, 2013 at 5:40pm
I'm a Milan fan and I can admit when my team sucks. Milan haven't been a good team for a couple years now. I think some Juve fans should just admit that Juve weren't good enough in the Champs League. Complaining about the conditions(when both teams had to deal with it) and reds or yellows is childish. They simply weren't good enough. They should've had more than 2 points from the fist 2 games considering the competition!
on the 11th December, 2013 at 5:37pm
Lastly, I really hope we (Napoli) and Milan can do it tonight. I truly do believe Milan are better than their Serie A form shows and lest we forget they dismantled PSV (should have won in Eindhoven as well).

It will be difficult for us, but all that's needed is an early goal and then anything can happen.
on the 11th December, 2013 at 5:35pm
Come the summer I think Agnelli and Co. have to seriously look at the areas where investment is needed. For me they have to look beyond Pirlo (as does the Nazionale) and figure out ways to penetrate teams in the CL. They also need to have two competent first elevens that can compete at home and abroad, players such as Isla and Padoin aren't good enough at this level.

What's most annoying is that Juve's best performance was away to RM, had they played like that in every match then...
on the 11th December, 2013 at 5:33pm
@Moggi's apostle

UEFA should be ashamed of? Why because of the snow? because it was too cold for them? WTF is that, stop coming up with lame excuses, the players are professionals and quite frankly, should be able to play on that turf, it happened before and it will happened again. brining up uefa is just plain sad.
on the 11th December, 2013 at 5:30pm
Juve are better than this and will bounce back. Conte will have learnt more this season than last and I'm sure that it will be a different story next year. It's true that they really blew it in the first part of the campaign but great teams aren't born overnight. The only consolation is that they will earn us extra points in the EL, that is IF Conte takes it seriously, fingers crossed that he does.
on the 11th December, 2013 at 5:29pm
So we have our first pathetic excuse @Francesco BOTH team played and please dont complain about the pitch as ELITE player as you mentioned they should be able to play on that turf. I've seen WAY worse conditions. Just look in Moscow and in russia. Juve didn't do well enough in the group and thats the SOLE reason to their failure in CL. Period. Complaining about red cards, etc. Pathetic. Admit you were bad. That's all.
on the 11th December, 2013 at 5:28pm
Nothing?? lol
on the 11th December, 2013 at 5:23pm
Let's hear the excuses 1 win in 6 games. They do NOT belong in CL.

Was it the weather? Was cause Pogba got a cold? Was it cause of the size of the ball?

Nothing will surprise me at this point.
on the 11th December, 2013 at 5:13pm
It is an embarrassment and we are a better side than our CL performances have let on, however the two ties against Gala and Copenhagen was where we lost it. Uefa though have a lot to answer for as that was not a pitch to play elite football on, no way and we have legitimate grounds to argue our case. I wish Gala all the best but it should never have gone ahead. Forza Napoli and Milan tonight.
on the 11th December, 2013 at 5:12pm
Have to say in Europe, Conte is pretty useless, he reminds me of Mancini at Inter. In CL, you have to try to score away from home. Yes this Gala match was odd but for Juve in Europe, the bigger picture reveals:
a-Conte needs to reconsider his approach and tactics including stubbornly keeping to his 352 system.
b-some players are not of Juve standard. Bonucci is a squad player at best, shud b nowhere near Azzurri BTW. Same goes for Llorente, if he only did 50% of what Tevez did, Juve wud v won.
on the 11th December, 2013 at 5:10pm
This kind of exit is why Italian football and serie A is seen as a joke, by the looks of it Napoli and Millan could all go out tonight as well. The english media have all ready written us when we play them in Brazil. I just hope we don't have an early exit in the World Cup to.
on the 11th December, 2013 at 5:08pm
They're unstoppable in Serie A and can't beat Copenhagen in Europe? And they seem to get no luck. The situation in Istanbul was ridiculous. The weather, being stuck in traffic late at night, having to switch hotels. They seem cursed. Then when they play they don't seem to have the same confidence. They switch formations and just down have the same belief. I hope I'm not speaking too soon but Milan, in general, seem to have better belief in Europe. It's all very odd. Fingers cross tonight.
on the 11th December, 2013 at 4:58pm
The bottom line is that Juve did not deserve to go out. Their performances were not reflected in results. Partly this may be down to a lack of composure and defensive mistakes. But UEFA did not help. The red card on Chiellini in Madrid and the decision to play today (when neither team wanted to) are both decisions that UEFA should be ashamed of. Sneiders's goal today followed a foul by Melo on Vidal that wasn't given. How Melo was not booked is unfathomable.
on the 11th December, 2013 at 4:56pm
Actually getting in such a unfair situation is what UEFA must think about.Gala's mentality and attitude to match have changed after knowing they already qualified for Europa league. They have nothing to loose. While they knew the only way to win juve was have an unorthodox situation. It was an open game day to manipulate, the field was not cleaned homogeneously while the side gala gonna play second half was awful.Saying juventus had to finish the job before is not the point here!
on the 11th December, 2013 at 4:55pm
Firstly to all those smug Juve fans especially Boss this serves you right for all the gloating and smugness. Boss what were you saying about Juve being the saviour of Italy's coefficient? Secondly as a fan of Italian football this is a huge blow. The best side in Italy cannot get out of its group. There's a chance that by the end of tonight no Italian teams could be in the knockout phase but lets hope that Milan and Napoli does us proud. Thirdly what is going on with Juve in Europe?
on the 11th December, 2013 at 4:53pm

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