Celtic vs. Juventus: 6 Key Stats That Tell the Story of the Game

Peter BrownellContributor IFebruary 12, 2013

Celtic vs. Juventus: 6 Key Stats That Tell the Story of the Game

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    Juventus may well have punched their ticket to the next round of the Champions League after thumping Celtic on Tuesday evening.  Barring a historic meltdown, scoring three goals away from home should be more than enough for the decorated Italian side to move on in the competition.

    A closer look at the statistics reveal some key aspects to the story of this match. 

    This list starts with the forever competent Gianluigi Buffon, the limited touches it took to score goals, the divine distribution of Andrea Pirlo, curious crossing, a costly error and the hopefulness of Celtic and their shot attempts.

    All statistics are courtesy of Whoscored, Opta and my own observations.   

9 Saves

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    Juventus have a massive advantage knowing Buffon is their last line of defense.

    The Italian was not forced to make too many spectacular saves against Celtic but was very active in his pursuit of a clean sheet.

    Whenever needed, Buffon was his dependable self. 

    The Hoops looked energized and motivated to score from the start, peppering Juventus with 17 total shots and forcing nine saves out of Buffon.  His positioning was calculated, and his hands were true. Every Celtic attempt was answered.

    He also beautifully nabbed cross after cross, stifling the Celtic wide threat with ease.

4 Total Touches

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    Juventus was economical with its finishing on Tuesday evening. 

    Alessandro Matri, Claudio Marchisio and Mirko Vucinic combined for just four total touches on three separate goal-scoring efforts.

    Matri, the recipient of an ambitious chipped-pass, barely tapped the ball with the outside of his right foot after muscling off a Celtic defender early on in the match.   

    Marchisio's first touch was divine, cutting up the defender with his left-foot and creating enough time and space to calmly slot the ball past the keeper and into the net with the inside of his right foot. 

    The assist may have been even prettier: a slick one-touch flick-on from the outside of Matri's right foot precisely into Marchisio's stride. 

    Vucinic calmly slotted home an easy pass from Marchisio following a Celtic giveaway in the back. 

    Textbook finishing from the Italian club.

64 Passes

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    Andrea Pirlo did not score any goals or register any assists for Juventus.  Regardless, the Italian midfielder had his fingerprints all over the outcome of this match.

    The playmaker was the most prolific passer in terms of volume for his side with 64.  He was accurate too, completing 81 percent of his attempts.  Only Andrea Barzagli came close to passing the ball as much as Pirlo did for Juventus with 50 tries.   

    Juventus were clearly looking for their maestro on Tuesday.  Pirlo was intelligent with his passing, knowing when to slow the game down with square balls and when to test the leaky Celtic back line with more adventurous passes.   

    The abundant skill set of one of the best distributors Europe has to offer was on full display in Scotland. 

26 Percent Crossing Accuracy

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    A look at the crossing figures from Celtic may offer a perspective on their potential tactics heading into the match.  The Scottish club pumped in a total of 46 crosses, nearly a cross every other minute. 

    Forgoing the middle of the pitch and relying on wing play was a decent strategy considering the superior organization of the Juventus back line and the mastery of Buffon. 

    Their crossing accuracy left much to be desired.  Of the attempted crosses, only 12 found a green-and-white shirt (26 percent). 

    All the blame should not be shouldered by the Celtic wingers.  Perhaps the Juventus defenders were so well positioned as to not be bothered by the onslaught of crosses.

    Or maybe the Celtic players timed their runs poorly.

    Whatever the case, this ineffectiveness was a critical reason Neil Lennon's side did not score.

1 Error Leading to Goal

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    Efe Ambrose's error proves that being anything less than perfect against one of the world's top clubs is crippling.

    Ambrose's late giveaway happened on the worst possible part of the pitch for Celtic.  His careless dribbling gifted Marchisio tons of space in front of the middle of his team's eighteen-yard-box. 

    Five touches, one pass and one shot later stripped any semblance of hope the Hoops had of advancing to the next stage of Champions League.

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59% Shots Outside the Box

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    Celtic were willing to uncork shots Tuesday evening, releasing 17 total.  According to Opta, the most shots they attempted in their Champions League group matches this season was 13.

    On paper, this looks like a solid figure from the Hoops.  Further investigation into the location of these shots suggests they may have been settling for unrealistic efforts.

    59 percent of their attempts were from outside the 18-yard-box.  The other 41 percent were inside the 18-yard-box but outside of the six-yard-box. 

    Juventus were tactically sound and spaced effectively.  However, shooting from outside the box with such high frequency can waste precious possessions.  

    Especially considering the quality of Buffon.