Juventus and Roma each face uphill battles of their Champions League ties this week
Paddy Agnew’s Notes from Italy: Will the Wounded Lion Roar?
On the finish of a painful week for Italian soccer, you would need to ask if any type of Champions League redemption is even remotely potential this week. For the third time within the final yr, Spanish soccer put three targets between itself and Italian soccer final week when, in fact, Juventus misplaced Three-Zero to Actual Madrid in Turin on Tuesday, solely to be adopted by Barcelona‘s Four-1 drubbing of AS Roma on the Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Slightly below one yr in the past, Juventus have been bitterly disenchanted when dropping the Champions League remaining Four-1 to Actual Madrid in Cardiff. That disappointment was all of the tougher to soak up each as a result of Juventus had gone into the sport actually fancying their possibilities and likewise due to their glorious first half efficiency in opposition to Actual.
4 months later, Spanish soccer put one other one throughout Italian soccer when comprehensively outplaying Italy to win their September World Cup qualifier in Madrid by Three-Zero. That defeat, in fact, despatched Italy into the play-offs and down the street to eventual elimination by Sweden. Within the meantime, there was one other painful little second ten days later when Barcelona upended Juventus Three-Zero in a Champions League group recreation.
In contrast to final Tuesday night time on the Juventus stadium, that Camp Nou defeat by Barcelona had however restricted penalties. Juventus stumbled however they remained within the Champions League race.
This time, nevertheless, even essentially the most die onerous Juventus fan is aware of that the Previous Girl has not a snowball’s hope in Hell. In spite of everything, all they have to do is rating 4 targets and concede none on the Bernabeu. Not solely have Actual gained 34 of their final 40 Champions League ties at residence however on the one event once they misplaced at residence, Three-Four to Schalke 04 in a 2015 second spherical tie, it mattered not a fig since Actual went via 5-Four on combination.
To get rid of Actual, the Previous Girl must pull off a efficiency much more outstanding than the stupendous second purpose scored by Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin final week. In actuality, Juventus will journey to Madrid hoping to restrict the damages and keep away from any additional embarrassment.
Regardless of all that, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri retains on speaking match. Earlier than his group’s in no way untroubled Four-2 away win on Saturday in opposition to backside Serie A group, Benevento, he described his Juventus as a “wounded lion”, including: “However we’re not useless but. Issues like that (the Three-Zero defeat) typically occur in soccer, particularly in opposition to excellent groups within the Champions League. For 60 minutes, we had performed properly the opposite night time however, in soccer, something can occur and issues can go belly-up.”
As he units out on this most not possible of Mission Impossibles, Allegri can take some small consolation from the historic consideration that on the final 4 events the 2 groups have met in two leg, Champions League ties, Juventus have certified. The latest such event got here within the 2014-2015 semi-finals when the Previous Girl was the final group to get rid of Actual from the competitors, successful 2-1 in Turin and drawing 1-1 in Madrid.
One suspects, although, that the file ebook will show of little consolation to Allegri. Fairly, wanting again to Tuesday, he should marvel if he and his group didn’t get their strategy all improper. Was there a unconscious temptation to observe and wait, within the hope that it’d all be determined within the return leg the place Juve may need hoped to grab a purpose that may see them via?
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How else do you clarify the very non-Juventus play which allowed Ronaldo – not precisely an unknown determine – snatch a third minute purpose that, sure, was brilliantly taken however which additionally owed a lot to poor defence from De Sciglio, Barzagli, Chiellini et al? As if that was not disastrous sufficient, Juventus then doubled the dose when these battle hardened warriors, Chiellini and Buffon, made a howler of Sunday Morning Kickaround proportions to arrange the Ronaldo aerial masterpiece.
Painfully, too, that mess-up got here on the counter assault and through Juve’s greatest interval. That’s the sense by which when Allegri says that his facet “had performed properly” for 60 minutes, he isn’t pulling your leg. To go on from there to concede a 3rd purpose and to have Argentinian Paulo Dybala despatched off (and thus lacking on Wednesday) was the ultimate blow. That was Good Night time, Irene and Bye, Bye Champions League for this season.
Likewise, it could appear to be “Buona Notte”, too, for Roma. Additionally they have cause to really feel that Dame Fortune was not at all times on their facet. Not solely did they concede an important, unfortunate, personal purpose simply earlier than half time however they have been additionally denied at the least one clear penalty (foul on Bosnian strike Edin Dzeko) with the rating on Zero-Zero.
Roma, too, will really feel that Barcelona’s first purpose had cruelly come on the finish of a primary half by which that they had greater than held their very own. Nevertheless, as Roma put together to entertain Barcelona for the return leg in Rome on Tuesday night time, it’s a sobering thought to replicate that the Catalan facet’s Four-1 win final week got here on an evening when Barcelona weren’t even enjoying particularly properly. What in the event that they, and that Messi fellow, refind their greatest type in Rome?
Lastly, to finish on a optimistic notice – from an Italian perspective, one of the best second of the week got here seconds after Ronaldo had scored that beautiful purpose in Turin. These 38,00Zero Juve followers who, till then, had jeered and insulted Ronaldo, instantly broke into sustained applause, in apparent recognition of a really particular second. Italian followers don’t at all times cowl themselves in such really sporting glory.