A packed Juventus Stadium welcomed Bayern Munich on Tuesday evening for a match between two of European football’s truly giant clubs. The first leg of this last-16 clash ended 2-2, with Bayern holding a distinct advantage thanks to their away goal, but the Bianconeri still have a chance to progress in the competition.
However, that did not appear to be the case for much of the first leg, with the German champions thoroughly dominating their opponents. As the tweet below highlights, Juve managed just 29 percent possession in the opening 45 minutes and should perhaps consider themselves fortunate not to be trailing by more than a single goal.
But for all Bayern’s superiority, that strike came courtesy of some uncharacteristically sloppy defending from the Turin side. Arjen Robben’s over-hit cross was volleyed back into the danger area by Douglas Costa, and an ineffective clearance allowed Thomas Muller to net from 12 yards out.
It could have been disallowed, as one of his team-mates was blocking Gianluigi Buffon’s vision and there was perhaps an earlier foul on Leonardo Bonucci. Ultimately, both incidents add to the feeling that the Bianconeri could have prevented the goal.
The second strike lent itself to similar belief as the usually flawless Andrea Barzagli became the latest defender to watch Robben cut back onto his left foot and curl the ball home. That came in the 55th minute, and shortly after that, Juventus suddenly sparked into life.
Having barely mustered a cohesive attacking move, Mario Mandzukic pounced onto Joshua Kimmich’s poor attempt to clear the ball and fed Paulo Dybala. The Argentinian forward made no mistake and beat Manuel Neuer.
Finding renewed hope with Bayern suddenly nervous, Juan Cuadrado drew a good save from the German goalkeeper before midfielder Paul Pogba hit the far post with an excellent effort of his own.
Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri brought on Stefano Sturaro and Alvaro Morata to continue the fight-back, and those decisions were quickly rewarded. Mandzukic flicked a pass from Pogba to the Spanish striker, who in turn headed the ball back across the goal to allow fellow substitute Sturaro to score from close range.
Pogba and Bonucci had chances to give the home side an unlikely victory, and the manner in which the final 30 minutes unfolded should give the Bianconeri a clear idea of how they can emerge as the overall winners of this tie.
When they allowed Pep Guardiola’s men to play, they were completely overrun. But they found success when they finally took the game to Bayern. It was something Cuadrado recognised shortly after the final whistle, with the Colombian international telling Mediaset Premium (h/t Juventus.com):
We know now that we need to start in Munich the way we finished tonight. If we do that, we have a chance. They have some exceptional players but we showed that we have great qualities ourselves tonight and that is something we must keep in mind for the second leg. We have to go there believing we can win.
He was not alone, with team-mate Sami Khedira telling BT Sport (h/t Football Italia) that “nothing is impossible” when they meet again in three weeks’ time, but the Bianconeri will need to take a much more proactive approach in order to do so.
“Fino alla fine”—until the end—is the club’s often recited motto, but at the Allianz Arena, Juventus need to attack from the start rather than once again waiting until late in the game, something only the brave would attempt.