Barcelona 3-0 Juventus
We sat down with @Juvefcdotcom to discuss the Juventus game as well as his pick of the bunch from the English sides....
Q.So first of all what were your thoughts on the defeat?
A. Initially, i was a little disheartened, but i think it's important to keep perspective on nights like this. Yes, we lost 3-0, but when Messi is in that form, there's little you can do to stop him. We controlled the game well for 44 minutes, but that one mistake cost us at the end of the first half, and it was downhill from there. The reaction from the players was disappointing from that point onwards. We should have been fighting to get back into the game - Instead we switched off and let them overrun us. We'll have to learn from it and move on quickly
Q. You mentioned Messi. So do you think it was more a case of Barcelona being too good rather than Juventus being really poor?
A. I think Messi was almost unplayable in that second half. When you're up against the greatest player of all time, it's hard to try and keep him under control when he's in that kind of form. I think we were disorganised at the back and that was our downfall - As much as we've beefed up our attack, we made mistakes at the back and that cost us dearly. Benatia had a good first half, as did barzagli, but they were asleep on Barca's opener and we never recovered in the second half. We had a modicum of control in the first 45 mins but we were spectators for much of the final 45 mins.
Q. Juventus have been praised and rightly so for their impeccable defence over the years. With Bonucci gone and other members of the defence ageing is that level of defensive performance not something we will be seeing from Juventus this season?
A. I think it's truly a period of transition at the back - Bonucci and Chiellini were one of the best duo's in Europe last season and losing big Leo has led us to have to rethink how we play from the back and how we defend as a unit. Rugani should be making the step up from here on out, but it's disappointing to see him left on the bench in a game like the one against Barca. He needs the minutes, to make the mistakes, to learn, to develop. Benatia is a good sub and his level is really not as high as it used to be. We still have Howedes to play and i have some hope that he could really become a leader at the back for us - He has the qualities in terms of his mentality, not just his physicality, to be a defensive leader. I think Chiellini should be restricted to playing in the big games while Barzagli is really best used in the games against chievo and the like. It took us some time to perfect the defence and only when Conte came in and fixed things did we truly see the benefits - 6 years of success were underpinned by the back line - now, we have to work to try and change that back line by having players like Rugani and Caldara step up in the seasons to come. It will take time, but once we have the balance and understanding again, i think we will be set.
Q. Where do you think this leaves Juventus in the Champions League? A sign they won't be able to compete for the latter stages?
A. I think it's the opposite - They've got the most difficult game of the group out of the way and from here on out, they have to improve, having learned from the mistakes in Spain. The team is still learning how best to play, especially as we have to integrate new signings like Matuidi, Costa, De Sciglio and Bernardeschi into the lineup. There's also some signs that the formation may change as the season progresses - We could see Juve use 4-2-3-1 in Italy and perhaps adapt to using a 4-3-3 in Europe or even a 4-3-2-1 like last night - It will take some fine tuning as Allegri is till deciding what his best starting XI is - As we say last season and the season before....and the season before, once Max has his team playing in a style that works best for him and the players, the results come. Personally speaking, i think we're seeing the best of Pjanic by having Matuidi next to him and that could lead to a 3-man midfield somewhere down the line. The options are there, it's a case of finding the best one to make us progress in the CL. I'm staying grounded this year after the disappointment in Cardiff - Whatever happens, i'll support the team 100% along the way, as always, but i won't be getting carried away.
Q. Final question who are your teams to watch in this seasons champions league?
A. I think Real and Barca are the outright favourites to win it- Real have an incredible depth to their squad while Barca may be revitalised this season with some exciting new signings. It'll be interesting to see how the English sides fare - Spurs, Liverpool, United and City are full of attacking talent and play on the front foot - Any one of them could surprise. I have a soft spot for Beskitas and Dortmund, so i'll always make time to see how they progress, but ultimately, i think it'll be one of the Spanish giants to lift the trophy
Q. Most likely out of the English sides in your opinion?
A. Tough question, but i think it would likely be City, given the money they've spent and the quality they have in midfield and attack
United are solid, but the quality in their squad isn't at the same level as City's