Juventus 2-2 Real Madrid: 6 Things We Learned
Juventus secured a vital point in their battle to escape from Group B of the Champions League.
The Bianconeri actually dropped a place, falling to last place in the group as a result of FC Copenhagen's victory over Galatasaray in the evening's other fixture.
Strangely, though, the Old Lady cheered gleefully when news filtered through of Roberto Mancini's side's surprise defeat.
It now gives them an edge in the pursuit of second place in the group and subsequently qualification for the knockout phase of the tournament.
Victory over the Danish champions in Game 5 will lift Juve into second place if Real Madrid can take care of business over Galatasaray.
When Game 6 arrives, Juve would only need a point in Istanbul to progress, which would not have been the case had the Aslan won in Copenhagen on Tuesday.
Here are six things we learned from the clash at the Juventus Stadium.
Real Madrid Have an Inability to Control Games in the Midfield
Real Madrid once again failed to control the game through the midfield, surrendering possession for large parts of the match to Juventus.
The Bianconeri's midfield trio of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and particularly Paul Pogba were able to edge the 90 minutes in their favour against Real's Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira and Luka Modric.
It has been a problem that Los Merengues have encountered throughout the current campaign under Carlo Ancelotti.
It will be a concern for Madridistas, as despite Juve's undoubted quality, there are a selection of better sides that they could face in Europe, and their inability to stamp their authority on matches will potentially be their downfall.
Ancelotti Continues to Fail to Instill an Urgency into His Team
Ancelotti will face question once more as to why his side failed to start quickly, something that is increasingly becoming a trend in this team.
While there were some nice patches of possession, they were ultimately harmless, and Juve eventually began to control matters.
At half-time, Juve thoroughly deserved their lead, and despite a lack of necessity to take a victory from this game after a perfect start in the opening three matches, it will have been duly noted by rival sides that Real can be troubled early on.
Ancelotti's men were drifting in and out of the game, and aside from the spell at the beginning of the second half, in which Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale wrestled the game back toward the Spaniards, Juve had plenty of joy.
In big games against Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, Real also trailed at the halfway stage, something that will have to be eradicated if Los Blancos are going to claim the major honours.
Paul Pogba Is the Best Young Midfielder in Europe
Paul Pogba put in another marvellous display to convince me that he is the best young midfielder in Europe.
A signature performance against one of the best sides in Europe will have caught the eye and potentially convinced some skeptics.
The Frenchman bossed the match in the first half, and against some of the finest opponents in the game, it was even more impressive.
Comparatively, Real Madrid paid over €30 million for Asier Illarramendi, who cannot get a start for a similar-sized club, and the Spaniard is a little older than Pogba.
There is nothing that Pogba cannot do. He possesses a complete game that will enable him to become one of the finest players in European football.
It is obvious now that he is a permanent fixture in this side and that Azzurri international Claudio Marchisio must fit in elsewhere—an incredible feat considering Pogba's tender age.
Soon though, interest from other clubs will begin to mount, and Juve must make sure to keep the incredibly talented 20-year-old.
Ronaldo Should Be the Front-Runner for the Ballon d'Or
Cristiano Ronaldo can do no more on a personal level. He has produced goalscoring statistics that are unrivalled by any other player over the past year.
There is no need to bore you with the statistics that continue to be regurgitated after each game and goal that the Portuguese scores.
Ronaldo's variety in the way he scores goals is the thing that makes him stand alone from anybody else in my opinion.
The record for goals scored in the group stage of the Champions League has been shattered with two games to spare, after eight strikes in just four matches.
Franck Ribery and Lionel Messi may play in better teams, but finally, Ronaldo deserves to be named Europe's best player in a white shirt.
Vidal Could Be the Best Penalty Taker Around
Arturo Vidal dispatches penalties like nobody else.
That long sprint before he strikes the ball sends fear into Juventini, but amazingly, the Chilean consistently hits the top corner.
With power and accuracy, when Vidal hits a penalty in the way he intends, no goalkeeper will save it.
Vidal replicated the penalty he took against Galatasaray, sending the ball high into the roof of the net.
The situations in which Vidal steps up tend to be at the utmost end of the pressure scale, yet El Guerrero does not appear to be flustered, replicating the same action time and again.
Vidal now appears to be the best spot-kick taker around. If you had to pick one player to dispatch a penalty, would it be the Juve centre midfielder?
Fernando Llorente Has Finally Settled
Fernando Llorente seems to have finally settled in a black and white shirt.
The Spaniard scored another crucial goal for the Old Lady, equalising to earn a vital point for Juve, that gives them the edge in their pursuit of qualification to the knockout phase of the competition.
Great movement to slip Raphael Varane gave him the space to glance a header into the far corner to send the Juventus Stadium into raptures.
The Lion King—as Juventini have affectionately named him—is perfectly suited to this 4-3-3 formation that Antonio Conte appears to have settled on for the Champions League.
However, Llorente will need to facilitate Carlos Tevez when the Bianconeri return to the 3-5-2 if he is to earn a permanent role in the starting line-up and therefore hold off competition from a fit-again Fabio Quagliarella and the returning Mirko Vucinic.
Competition is rife for a place in the World Cup squad for the Spanish national team, with David Villa, Fernando Torres, Roberto Soldado, Alvaro Negredo and potentially Diego Costa all vying for minimal places in La Roja's front line—a task that has become even more problematic given Vicente del Bosque's lack of a dependency on centre-forwards.
Llorente will have a chance, though, as form like this will catch the eye given the greater profile of Juventus compared to Athletic Club.
The 28-year-old appears to be up for the challenge, and he is now adapted enough to Italian football and Antonio Conte's methods to make a late run for a ticket to Brazil.