Juventus sounded so convincing that I even bought into their unbridled confidence, thinking that a 2-0 aggregate scoreline could be turned around by the reigning Italian champions in their intimidating new stadium.
However, another dominant display from the recently-crowned Bundesliga winners put to bed my naivety, as they managed yet another 2-0 win against a team that was clearly inferior throughout both legs.
- The losses of Arturo Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner proved costly to the Bianconeri, as they were forced to slot in a player like Simone Padoin on the right flank, who has about as much Champions League experience as I do.
- Up front, Antonio Conte once again went with the hit-or-miss Fabio Quagliarella, who nearly scored with a signature fantastic effort from distance. Along with Mirko Vucinic, the mercurial and rather inconsistent pair failed to give Juventus a goal in the entire game.
- Simply put, the attack isn't up to the level required at this stage of the competition. Fortunately for Juventus fans, January transfer window signing Fernando Llorente can be that man next year, as he will join the team in the summer.
- Andrea Pirlo isn't Andrea Pirlo in the Champions League. Milan fans have been echoing these sentiments since the club sold the deep-lying playmaker to Juventus two seasons ago. Pirlo can be quelled by a world-class team with athletic midfielders. Against Bayern, Pirlo was contained in both legs and looked slower and older than he ever has berfore in his entire Juventus stint.
Bayern Munich Notes:
- Bayern Munich not only proved to be a better side than Juventus, but also one that needs to be considered as a favorite in Europe. They've built a model organization which is balanced throughout the formation, having incredible depth in each position.
- This Bayern Munich team reminds me a bit of the Inter side which went on to win the Champions League in 2010 under Jose Mourinho (ironically against Bayern in the final). They play the same 4-2-3-1 formation and employ plenty of hulking, physical players with the right mix of ruggedness and technique.
Although it was a sad exit for Juventus, they'll be back next year even better. After a summer where they'll improve their striking core, the Bianconeri will fill their biggest weakness while having young starlets like Paul Pogba getting even better—a terrifying thought for any fan of a rival Italian side.
La Vecchia Signora can bow her head back and admit that the better team won. Bayern Munich put on a footballing display for the entire world and will undoubtedly provide us with another memorable two-legged affair in the semifinals.
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