Recapping Juventus v. Real Madrid with JuveFC.com
Juventus suffered a disappointing 3-0 defeat at home to Real Madrid yesterday in Turin, making a trip to the semifinals of the Champions League all but impossible. To recap the match, we spoke to someone who knows the club well, Rav from JuveFC.com.
Claudio: So I want to begin with your thoughts on the match. As a neutral, I didn't think Juventus played poorly, I thought they reacted well to the early goal, had chances to score and were really let down by some individual defensive errors. What were your thoughts?
JuveFC: I echo those thoughts to a degree - we played very well from minute 10 to minute 60. Everything about the side was good, without being great. The team played out well from the back, the front line seemed to be working in tandem, even the midfield was passing well, moving the ball to the wide areas. Our loss is down to a number of factors for me: 1. A constantly changing formation using different personnel. Granted, we had players out injured, but we could have used a 4-3-3 last night and included Matuidi. 2. Individual errors - Too often, we're prone to mistakes and lapses in concentration. It has happened in many big games and once again, it cost us dearly. 3. Our midfield is not world class. Pjanic is possibly the best player in there, but the remaining players are aging and nearer to the end of their careers than the beginning. 4. We also need to accept that Real were simply better than us. It's a hard thing for many Juventini to swallow, but sometimes, you have to pay respect to the superior side
Claudio: Very valid points, seemed like the second goal and then the Dybala sending off is where things kind of got away from Juventus. I want to touch on your opinion that Matuidi could have been included. It seems like a lot of Juventus fans would have liked to see Marchisio included in the place of Pjanic. Is that nostalgia talking and do you think Matuidi would have been the better option or do you think Marchisio could have also played a part in this match?
JuveFC: Marchisio would have offered more muscle but also some intelligence in midfield. I think Bentancur did really well for the opening half, but after that, he was simply ineffective. Marchisio has the big game experience, he had been around the block, and he would have been ideally placed to rally the team and add some grinta to an otherwise lacklustre midfield. He's a complete midfielder, he has plenty of energy, and while he may not have the pace, he has the smarts needed in a match like this. To play a youngster, out of the blue, was both good and bad - Rodrigo got some much needed experience, but he was also out of his depth when Real went up a gear.
Claudio: I also thought that Bentancur started off well but as the match went on and became more intense, he was out of his element a bit. But like you said, he is only 20 so the experience is great for him and he seems like he will have a bright future.
I want to ask you about the second goal, it was definitely a beautiful bicycle kick from Ronaldo, but it was really caused by some sloppy play by Juventus. In particular, I am talking about the miscommunication between Chiellini and Buffon that began the whole exchange. For an outsider, it was weird seeing those two not on the same page. Do you think that was just an anomaly or is it really a sign that they are both aging and maybe not at their peak any longer?
JuveFC: I see it as an absolute anomaly. They’re two players who have the best possible understanding of one another. A momentary mistake and Real were in. If that were a Serie A side, they may not have cost us - but this is Real in the Champions League, and they are a different breed - you can't allow them space or they will exploit it, as they did last night. Of course, Gigi and Giorgio are on the decline and nearing the end of their careers, but contrast that moment with the earlier moment against Tottenham when Giorgio made a vital clearance to keep us in the game. In the big occasions, you are tested by the best and you can't afford any lapses in concentration.
Claudio: Let's move onto a younger player, Paulo Dybala. He was very lively and threatening, but then he had the red card that essentially took Juventus out of the game. What were your thoughts on his performance and his overall season for Juve?
JuveFC: It has been a mixed bag - last season, my biggest criticism of him was that he wasn’t decisive enough for the team. I think he suffers on occasions, being marked out of a game or he struggles to create space for himself. This season, he started brilliantly, then missed two vital penalties and it obviously dented his confidence. He needs to step up more, he needs to impose himself on a match. I don’t thing Allegri helps him by moving him around from role to role - his best season was when he played off Mandzukic in the 3-5-2 and he was played as a second striker of sorts. Playing him in midfield is a waste. He's not an orchestrater, he's a finisher. Next season, assuming he remains, I want to see him in a front two and I want to see him stay in one role. He is a much better player than the petulant player we saw last night, making two very silly and immature mistakes
Claudio: I think he would be foolish to leave Juventus this summer. As you said, he dominated Serie A in the beginning of the season and he has also been very decisive for Juve in Italy in the last few rounds, particularly the goal against Lazio and then again on Saturday against Milan. I would like to see him put a whole season together from start to finish before he were to leave Italy.
Do you have any hope whatsoever for the second leg? If Juventus does indeed get eliminated, what are the areas do you think they need to improve in order to compete for next year's competition? For me, I think if Benatia and Pjanic were in that match it would have been a little different of a result, they still may have lost but I don't think they would have had such a mountain to climb. So with that in mind, do you think the squad needs major changes for next year?
JuveFC: At the start of the season, I had post-Cardiff blues. I support the team, through good and bad, but for the first time in 20 years, I didn’t have the same belief going into the CL. I'm not crushed this time round because I didn’t have the belief in the first place - too many European disappointments have left me jaded. Despite that, anything is possible. If we can pressure them, play with absolute freedom, press them, take better control in midfield and utilise Dybala and Costa more effectively, we can get something. We may not win, but we will give a good account of ourselves. As for the major changes, we need to address the biggest issues - the fact that we have never replaced Vidal and Pogba. We can’t get like for like players, but we can get players that are close and can perform a similar function. We need young, talented players on the up and up - we don’t need free signings to try and save the club money - if you want to beat the best you have to sign the best. We have to meet teams like Barca and Real on a level playing field - that starts with the centre of the pitch. – it’s the only part of the team that is lacking for me.
Claudio: Great points! Lastly, quickly turning to Serie A, do you think we'll see a dip in concentration after this disappointment or will we see a more motivated Juventus who will close out the season as Italian champions
JuveFC: Juve have the tougher run in, and if they have learned anything from last night, it's hopefully that you need to stay focused. Hopefully they will press on in Serie A and close out the season in style with some strong victories against rivals like Napoli, Inter and Roma, I suspect this loss will only glavanise them to play better football in the closing games and hopefully give Gigi a nice send off at the end of the season.
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