Match Review Champions League

Sticky: We march on…Real Madrid 4 – 1 Juventus

June 5, 2017 - 7:48 pm

I cannot recall much of the second half, and its probably for the best. So kindly excuse my lack of analysis of the specific moments and movements on the field which led to the defeat which by some quarters is still being referred to as a total capitulation. I am not of this opinion. I remain proud of the side and whilst it is tinged with bother of what could have been, our progress as a club remains superb.

It is impossible for me to avoid mentioning the horror which occurred in London the same night, for despite my long term absence from my own flock, having spent much of the night here in Melbourne engaged in conversation via skype with my brethren from the motherland, I felt the carnage more keenly than similar incidents in recent memory. It put much in perspective. As my steadfast, probably unhealthy zeal in delving deep into global affairs often does. It encourages me to express myself, to seek the meaningful, the decent, the colourful and to try make the most of every wakeful second. In short, there are far more important matters we face as humanity than men kicking a ball around a park.

Still, rather than focus on the insanity, I will continue this unexpectedly sombre – for many reasons – overview of the game.

I had explained to a chum at work on Thursday my hesitation regarding the possibility of 1-2 players of our first XI failing to show, and what that could mean when facing a side able to call upon a far stronger squad already well accustomed to winning at the top level in the current era. I questioned whether we would be able to maintain the consistent brilliance as gloriously as our luck could hold, for we have required both to reach the final. Some say that Barca are a spent force, an echo of their former greatness. I disagree. We could well have lost the second leg by several goals, on the balance of decent chances created. Yet they were missed, thankfully.

Our determination and cohesive belief was in full flow for the opening 45 minutes. It was a truly marvellous performance and a delight to watch. Yet something changed soon after the break. Perhaps it was the bother Pjanic received to his knee? This would certainly have played some part in our sudden inability to play the ball intelligently out of defence We had nowhere to go, it appeared, and were gifting possession to the opponents repeatedly. Even before the second goal flew in, unfortunate as the deflection certainly was, it had been coming. The flood gates opened and we simply could not recover. Madrid were worthy winners. They made their own luck.

Pjanic and Khedira were both listless from what I recall in fragments from that terrible time. Alves unable to find traction anywhere on the flank. Dybala fully shackled by that cunning swine Ramos and with nobody in black and white able to put their foot on the ball and dictate any of the play we were done for.

The only semblance of hope on the bench was Il Principino, hardly a game changer, who we have missed more than many realise. In hindsight, that is the only change that could have been made sooner, or even from the start. We missed his intelligence and experience. Most of all, when the going got tough. He still has a huge amount to offer and I would like to assume that he will be reintegrated into the first XI after a solid pre-season.

As was the problem earlier the campaign, our unorthodox , sometimes awkward midfield came back to haunt us. And this is where I believe the battle was lost.

Pjanic has been morphed into a deep lying playmaker, where he can excel though requires an awful lot of protection against the very best, in terms of having a true anchor man by his side who can read the play superbly and screen the defence. This is not Claudio’s natural game, but he has become damn good in the role over the years. The obvious solution to the problem is to bring in some fresh hustle and bustle aligned with great promise and to bed in a true DM. We have been playing without one all season. And at times, it has showed.

Sami lacks the pace and intelligence to perform the duties required at DM. His intelligence is mainly offensive. Miralem can read the play and produce mesmerising moments higher up the field, but he is very offensively minded. Having two players as the pivot, neither of whom is naturally defensive minded makes for some splendid attacking verve, yet leaves us prone to been sliced upon through the middle. Add in the absence of a RB, instead asking a 36 year old still classy CB to cover that area, again augments the weakness I am highlighting.

We are strong at CB, LB/LWB, Deep Lying Playmaker and at CF and SS. Elsewhere there is room for improvement. Especially on the right. Where Alves has sparkled beautifully, brought us all so much joy, yet he is in the twilight of his career. Cuadrado is a player who has improved this calendar year, though his form of late has been yet again haphazard. He was appalling on the night, and it will come as no surprise to many to find me concluding that he lacks the mentality and talent of a champion. The Colombian has helped our cause on many occasions, but I would be fine to see him leave the club. Too one dimensional, and with Alves ageing, we need someone more potent and more importantly, of far greater mental fortitude. A one trick pony whose head drops all too easily leaves us weak on that flank, when his failings are carefully exploited.

De Sciglio could prove a great option at RB, but what of higher up the field? If we are to continue with a wide midfielder we need to spend on some real quality for that role.

On the opposite flank, Sandro is fine, still room to improve but he has enjoyed an outstanding season. Pjaca will not be back for a fair while hence our interest in Keita and Bernardeschi, both of which are also happy, perhaps more useful, through the middle, which could mean a quality back-up for Dybala. Which is needed.

Of equal importance is to bring in a CF. Higuain is a top striker, no doubt on that score whatsoever, but our only other option is Mandzukic, who has impressed in a LW/LM berth, but he remains shoe-horned. As his contract has been extended, we will see a lot more of the Croatian, and perhaps if a top drawer LW is recruited we might see the towering striker return to a more central position. If so, he will play second fiddle to the Argentine. Though will take some dislodging from his place in our 4-2-3-1.

So drenched with russian fire water and Moet, weighed down by a heavy sense of deep dismay, I could have cried when I saw Lemina appear. A player who has no place in a champions league final of any era…Which I can now chuckle to recall. Yet this does illustrate the lack of strength in depth of the squad, which I have firm belief in Beppe and Fabio to continue improving, as they have done year upon year for many moons.

Essentially, my opinion of our progress is unchanged. Winning is not all that matters, and though the performance in the second half was sickening to the soul, upon reflection, I remain very pleased indeed with achieving domestic doubles, the evolution of the side and reaching two champions league finals in three seasons. We are clearly heading in the right direction and this squad has not reached the end of an era, with no mass change required throughout the ranks. A beast as DM and we are instantly a stronger side. Add in some other talent in the areas I have discussed and still further we reach towards the ultimate goal.

To return to my earlier point…as recent events in Paris, Manchester, London have reminded us, and the appalling brutality abounding globally, there is far more to life than football. Try stealing some flowers and writing a poem for a woman who makes you shy and feel like a schoolboy when you are eye to eye, seek adventure, seek true romance, seek the beauty of the wilderness, travel, dig deep for inspiration and cling to any hope of bliss…

We are all hurting. Yet there will come a time when we will look back on this defeat and know it was merely a stepping stone –  a rather hot one to our bare lower paws at that – towards glory.

Have faith, my friends, in Juve, in humanity and in yourselves…


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  • Avatar
    Dar Black June 5, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    As always a perfect recounting sir:

    My words: sadness that the result and performance we deserved did not materialise. Devastated for Gigi. Frustrated that Marchisio did not replace the lightweight and overrated Sami. Pity for Ramos, a blight on the sport of football.

    And sheer anger and hatred for those who spilt more blood in a part of London I know quite well. Yes Teresa, enough is bloody well enough.

    We hold our heads high, strengthen and go again next term. Because that is the right response to setbacks like this. We will prevail, but maybe a few sessions with a head coach might help us be rid of some demons I think may be lurking around….

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet June 7, 2017 at 8:55 am

      I have confidence in a third of Corbyn’s cabinet, unease at another and despair and contempt for the final lot. Yet…I believe that if he manages to get in, which is far more possible than it seemed when May called the snap election, he will do some good before he is culled, by the mercenaries in his own flock eager to sell their souls to the anglozionists and their death machine.

      Unlike the US (who see electing Trump as anti-establishment!) and the french, who elected the most obvious puppet of the globalisists ever to ‘take power’, the brits have shown some grit, with the brexit and also with the mere possibility of a decent man of unerring integrity seriously running for the PM spot. Old chum, he would put the cat amongst the pigeons. Especially if he would follow through on the report on the KSA $ routine and our own funding of many a young lad with dark skin in a black suit with a flag that seems a modern version, aesthetically, to the trademark skull and crossbones…perhaps that is the aim of the Mossad/Mi6/CIA creators of such scum?

      I am reaching a point where I grow so quickly bothered and berated by the so called ‘left’ who consider my support for Putin, Assad, Muammar as fascist, and also with the so called ‘right’ who consider my hatred of Trump as an obvious pigfucker continuing the same puppetry of his forerunners, sucking from the same teat, as ‘liberal snowflake’…what these fools fail to understand is that their responses are canned, they are scripts found elsewhere that they simply regurgitate, without thinking. Rather than sporadically strike against morons, I should save more for my novels…one of which is very football related, which I must return to, aim to start a fire, not waste time and vitality with flashes in the pan.

      take care, mate. D

      • Avatar
        Dar Black June 10, 2017 at 3:02 pm

        Doh. What a mess we are in. The bastard EU d*cks are loving every minute of it. Now looks like we won’t get a hard brexit, which is precisely what most people wanted in the referendum. The issue of mass EU industrial scale uncapped immigration won’t get sorted as it needs to, and we will be back to square one again.

        I truly believe if they backtrack on brexit we are heading for civil war. Jo Cox will just be the first of many. Who would have thought……

  • Avatar
    ho Hi June 6, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Whatever happenend during halftime,we ll never know. But what makes me so angry after the lucky goal of Casemiro there wasnt one Juve player with power and passion to LEAD this team forward. No Bonucci. Khedira. Pjanic. Alves. Higgy. Mandzu. None. Juve was so horribly weak. After the second goal.
    Its nice to win serie a. And coppa. Si si. But no one is talking about that. So next year please all eyes on CL. Place 2 or 3 is ok with me. For one or two seasons.

  • Avatar
    Juventino Persa June 6, 2017 at 9:53 am

    It took me a few days to be able to even thinks about that disastrous 45 minutes, as I was devastated, and lost my appetite for football in general! I have seen five CL finals of my beloved Juve and all are lost! This one was too much!

    We can talk about tactical aspects of the game, or horrific performance of almost all our players, except for Mandzukic and Pjanic. Higuain was invisible, Alves lost ball on the first two goals and instead of tracking back, he went for his Barça theatrics, Sami could not impose himself in the game, Dybala… ah, for me the worst performer, la Joya lost his magic touch on every occasion he had the ball, and I can’t help but think that Bonucci, Chiellini and Santo Buffon should have blocked/saved at least one goal, if not two. Madrid was ruthless, but every ball they shoot went into our net! And we had two very good RBs, but mister opted for a 36 years old, with all due respect is not good enough for this position at this age.

    But for me the turning point was the second goal, and the mental collapse of the team. We had half an hour left, and just one goal needed. Here comes the tough question Juventini should ask themselves: Bayern Munich were 2-0 behind last year agains us up to minute 78, Barcelona needed 3 goals against PSG up to minute 87, Madrid were behind Atletico and not even creating chance in 2014 final up to minute 92:48! We were just one damn goal behind, why the hell we panicked and collapsed, but they didn’t???

    We can rightfully say our midfield and wings need improvements, but the truth is the difference was the mentality. We didn’t have the confidence that we can come from behind against elite teams to beat them. Our plan was to score one early goal, as we did against Barça, and sit back. It didn’t happen, our mentality didn’t give us any other solution. When we conceded second goal, we fell apart. All those games we were playing at home against small teams, scoring one goal and then sitting deep waiting for the game to be finished, they did their damage in our mentality! The difference in the winning mentality of Madrid and our mentality couldn’t be more clear when in the last 10 minutes of the game they were attacking relentlessly, while they were 3-1 ahead and even 4-1 ahead. Ask yourselves: Would Juve do the same if they were 3-1 or 4-1 ahead in CL final? Or they would sit deep happily waiting for the game to be finished? We all know the answer…

    I know most of fellow Juventini don’t agree with me on that, but for me it’s Juve’s defensive and passive mentality to blame. Seven champions league finals losses don’t come by coincidence! Let’s not fool ourselves: “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.”

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet June 7, 2017 at 9:03 am

      I feel that Barzagli is an easier target than he should be, due to his age. I did not feel that any of the defenders were appalling. It was the total collapse in midfield which appeared the obvious issue, and when you have just two in the middle, with Dybala lost between seeking space which looked like that prick Ramos, and not finding any joy seeking depth in the channels, it allowed the midfield trident of Kroos>Casemiro>Modric pretty much a constant 3 on 2, often it looked like 3 on 1.

      Add in the immensely powerful and swift movements of Ronaldo, the two unlucky deflections, and really, I see the issue more in midfield than at the back. If we are to look for the weakest spots, again i would proffer not Barzagli was at fault, but more Alves, for his efforts on the flank were haphazard and offered very little support at the back.

      I will stick to my conclusion, which has been steady since the game. We came up short in central midfield, and coming up short against probably the strongest player in the strongest squad in the world game was only going to end horridly.

  • Avatar
    Juventino Persa June 6, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    I had a quite long comment here, do you know why is it deleted?

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet June 7, 2017 at 2:30 am

      Indeed my friend, I read it last night, added a Vote up. And saw the thing still there much later on as I was going to comment before heading to The Devils and then slumber…and yet now it has vanished. I will second your enquiry to the Chief and hope he can shed some light on the matter.

    • Avatar
      Moderator June 7, 2017 at 7:19 am

      ciao amico ! apologies, the comment was sitting in the moderation queue for some reason – I don’t filter anything, but sometimes, messages are flagged for some reason. I have approved it