Juventus 3-2 Olympiakos
Pirlo 21 (J), Botia 24 (O), N’Dinga 61 (O), Roberto og 65 (J), Pogba 66 (J)
Champions League – Game 4 [4th November 2014] – Juventus Stadium
After Allegri’s decision of switching to a back-line of four defenders, he made it clear that something drastic was necessary to win and ultimately join Atletico Madrid–who seem favorites to finish first–in advancing from the group stages.
Juventus came out of the gates extremely hungry, hardly allowing Olympiacos to any possession with the ball. The midfield was incredible, but there was still the obvious lack of creativity and a pulled trigger in the opposition’s final third. Between Tevez, Marchisio, Vidal, Morata, etc there were a number of chances that could’ve seen the Bianconeri take a comfortable lead after the first 45 minutes, but it was not until Juve won a free kick in a perfect area for Italian legend, Andrea Pirlo to make his mark. After stepping up to take the spot kick, it was not long until the ball went over the wall, past Roberto and hit the back of the net with immense velocity. The score was 1-0 in Juventus’ favor after the 21st minute, but much was still to come for the Gobbi.
Celebrations did not last long as the Greeks swiftly answered back after a botched ball from Gigi Buffon to gift Olympiacos a corner which Botia would take advantage of his freedom and even the score 1-1 only 3 minutes after Pirlo’s wonderful free kick. A very festive Juventus Stadium had quickly gone silent and Allegri’s men were forced to start from scratch, desperate for all 3 points, Juventus quickly regained possession and had a number of opportunities before the half which failed to cause a break in the deadlock.
After regrouping in the locker room, Allegri went out with the same eleven that exited the pitch, but Llorente and Padoin began their warmups on the touchline. More domination came from Juventus, but after more missed chances such as Asamoah’s cross that found four black-and-white shirts, but still went wide, it was not Juventus who made it 2-1. In the 61st minute, Olympiacos’ Delvin N’Dinga was all smiles as he quieted a very noisy Juventus Stadium, breaking many hearts of The Old Lady in doing so.
Their lead did not last long, however and Llorente (after coming on for Morata in the 58th minute) forced an own goal by Roberto, who was immaculate in the first leg in Athens. Suddenly everything had changed and Juventus went from hitting rock-bottom, likely getting eliminated from the group stage for the second consecutive year, to being able to dream again.
As if the excitement of the second Juventus goal was not enough, again the super-sub Fernando Llorente was holding the ball up in the opposing third only to find the magical Frenchman, Paul Pogba. The towering midfielder bobbled the ball, but quickly recovered and firing a shot towards Roberto. For a moment the stadium was still and millions of hearts had stopped. All eyes on Paul before the commentator was able to scream, enthusiastically, “GOOOOOOL DI PAUL POGBA!!! RETEEEE DI POGBA!!!” It was a goal that even William Shakespeare wouldn’t have been able to script. Since coming on in the 58th minute, it was a very hungry Fernando Llorente who silenced his doubters and made all the difference, forcing an own goal and giving an assist to Paul Pogba. Finally Juventus fans could praise the Spanish giant after such an exhausted dry spell.
Allegri made two more conservative changes after bringing on Padoin and Pereyra for the fatigued Marchisio and Asamoah who played excellent matches. It was smooth sailing for the remainder of the match as Olympiacos did not pose any concrete threats to Buffon and his defense, but everyone was working on overdrive to secure the home victory.
What would this match have been without further drama? After a darting run from Carlitos Tevez into the Olympiacos box, the Argentinian demi-God was tripped up in the box allowing Juventus an opportunity to extend their lead. After a few moments, Vidal stepped up confidently, but failed to widen the gap and forced a brilliant save from Roberto, who can only be praised for his performances against The Old Lady; it wasn’t to matter after all as the ref blew the whistle and the Gobbi would go home with all 3 points in their pockets.
With still much to do, Allegri must focus on gaining at least 4 points from the visiting Atletico Madrid and the trip to a wintery Sweeden against Malmo.
|Man of the Match:||Pirlo
|Flop of the Match:||N/A||Pass Accuracy:||87%||Ball Possession:||61%|
|Fouls:||9||Shots on Target:||6||Formation:||4-3-1-2|
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Juventus: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Asamoah (Pereyra 82); Pirlo, Vidal, Pogba, Marchisio (Padoin 70); Morata (Llorente 57), Tevez
Olympiacos: Roberto; Elabdellaoui, Botia, Abidal, Masuaku; Maniatis (Diamantakos 82), N’Dinga (Kasami 77), Milivojevic; Afellay, Dominguez (Fuster 71); Mitroglou