Juventus 0-0 Atletico Madrid
Champions League – Game 6 [9th December 2014] – Juventus Stadium
For over a year we have bemoaned Juve’s inability to get through last year’s Champions League group stage. Today, they killed the elephant in the room and advanced with a 0-0 draw against Atletico Madrid at Juventus Stadium. While a win would have been preferred, the draw seems them finish second in the group. Now, Juventus moves on to the elimination rounds.
The match was really a battle of wits between two fine coaches, and a battle on the pitch between two well organized and tough sides. Atletico Madrid were particularly phenomenal in defense today, staying organized with mass numbers behind the ball when Juve were in attack. Though they also displayed a consistent ability – per usual – of being able to threaten on the counter attack. Their marking was nearly flawless, though it was helped by a general lack of creative final balls from Juventus.
Juventus defended well but not quite to the level that Atletico did. Of course, Atletico also had to do more defending in general so their performance was even more admirable. Atleti were even granted the first chance of the match five minutes in. Leonardo Bonucci went up for a header, lost the challenge, and left space for Raul Garcia to make a shot that would be saved by Gianluigi Buffon. There were a handful of occasions where the defense gave Atleti just enough margin of error to pounce on, but Gigi stopped them each time.
Having said that Juventus still played pretty well. The side dominated possession, and certainly took the game to Atletico. However as mentioned earlier their offensive journeys weren’t very creative. Oftentimes the midfielders were the most threatening attacking outlets. This exemplifies how Juve struggled to create good scoring chances, but Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba each managed to carve out a pair of decent shots on goal. They were all saved except for Pogba’s final effort in the 82nd minute, which went just wide right.
Pogba’s two efforts were the more threatening ones, and he even created the best scoring chance Juventus had on the evening. He sent a fabulous cross to Fernando Llorente in the 31st minute. Unfortunately Llorente was marked very well though he did managed to get in a header. The header wasn’t terrifically placed, but it was good enough to force a save, and given the circumstances it was decent effort.
Llorente’s partner, Carlos Tevez, was all over the match and provided much link-up play. Whenever he tried to make something for himself, though, Atletico’s defense would quickly snuff him out before he could really get into dangerous areas. Once again, their ability to close down Tevez while not leaving much space for any other Juventus attacker served as testament to their ability to defend as a side.
Andrea Pirlo took a few freekicks, some from semi dangerous areas. None of them really threatened the goal too greatly. The lone exception was in the 25th minute, when Pirlo’s freekick was only slightly over the Atletico Madrid crossbar. Pirlo, much like Tevez, was well-marked by Atletico and was never given a chance to impose his will on the opposition.
Atletico were clearly playing for a draw, especially in the second half. Still, Juventus truly did try and bring home three points tonight. For the most part they went out ready to attack, though they certainly were careful not to risk possession – and a possibly threatening Atletico counter – when there were no clear cut passes to make in the final third. Generally though they were playing more forward balls then they were playing balls to the backline to keep possession.
At the end of the day a win would have been nice. What really matters though is qualifying for the next round. Juventus did that, and they can build on this and push forward in Champions League. It’s an exciting time for Juventini, let’s see where the season will take us.
Man of the Match: Gianluigi Buffon
Flop of the Match: N/A
Pass Accuracy: 92%
Shots on Target: 4
Total Shots: 11
Ball Possession: 72%
Juventus: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Pereyra, Pogba, Pirlo; Vidal; Tevez, Llorente
Atletico Madrid: Moya; Juanfran, J Gimenez, Godin, Siqueira; Mario Suarez, Gabi; Raul Garcia, Koke, Arda Turan; Mandzukic
Ref: Collum (SCO)