Last week Juventus travelled to the Allianz Arena and were humbled by a Bayern Munich side desperate to make amends for losing last year’s final in their own stadium. A two-nil victory showed that they were a side to be taken seriously and that the second leg defeat to Arsenal in the previous round was more a product of circumstance rather than any sudden loss of form by the Bavarian outfit. The Bianconeri knew that overcoming that deficit would be difficult but not impossible and they would fight to the very end in the hunt for victory.
MATCH ANALYSIS by Adam Digby
Yellow cards and the subsequent suspensions robbed Antonio Conte of both Arturo Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner so Paul Pogba slotted into midfield alongside Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio while Simone Padoin and Kwadwo Asamoah filled the wingback berths. The usual suspects lined up in defence while Fabio Quagliarella partnered Mirko Vucinic in attack and Juventus made clear their intent from the opening whistle.
They asserted themselves in a way David Alaba’s early first leg goal never allowed them to do last week and it looked like being one of those games where the pressing and pressure demanded by Conte would pay dividend. The increased sense of belief inside the stadium was palpable as, in one voice, the crowd declared “if you’re not jumping, you don’t believe we can do it!” Not a single soul remained in their seat.
Vucinic failed to trouble Manuel Neuer inside two minutes with a weak effort before Marchisio blasted a left-footed drive over the bar. With 22 minutes gone, Bayern had barely been allowed to venture beyond their own half and gave away a free kick that was outside their box and in a nice central position. It was a gilt edged opportunity and the noise inside Juventus Stadium grew even louder as Pirlo stood over the ball and surveyed the scene.
Sadly for The Bearded Genius and the “one hundred and sixty million fans around the world,” Neuer proved equal to the task and parried a superb effort away from goal. Undeterred, the Bianconeri stuck to their task and drove forward, almost completely in command of the game. Padoin slotted a superb pass to Pogba but, as the midfielder flashed the ball across the face of goal, not one player had followed him in to tap home. Somewhere in northern Spain, Fernando Llorente smiled and imagined similar chances coming his way next term.
Quagliarella would fire wide with an effort typical of his insane penchant for miraculous goals before some normality was restored and, after almost forty minutes, Bayern recorded their first genuine shot as everyone’s favourite pensioner Gigi Buffon prevented Alaba from netting again.
Halftime came and went without any change from Conte, a worrying issue given the team now had just 45 minutes to find three goals after not finding a goal in triple that amount of time so far. Yet he appeared to have once again inspired the players as a great run from Vucinic drew a poor challenge from Dante. That gave Pirlo another set piece opportunity but this time he struck the wall and the ball ran softly to the waiting goalkeeper.
Quagliarella and Arjen Robben traded efforts before the moment all those of a Bianconeri persuasion dreaded. Mario Mandzukic was in the right place at the right time and headed home from close range to all but end Juve’s hopes and substitute Claudio Pizzarro added a second to ensure comfortable passage into the Semi Finals for Bayern.
LE PAGELLE by Aaron Giambattista
Buffon 7.0 - Criticized by Beckenbauer as a “pensioner” after a disappointing display in the first leg, San Gigi showed his class in the return match in Torino. Commanded his box well and pulled off some great saves on Alaba and Robben. Made a good save on Martinez before the goal, but couldn’t do anything on the rebound.
Barzagli 5.5 - Pressed by Muller, Barza never settled into a good passing rhythm and was occasionally defensively suspect.
Bonucci 5.0 - Ultimately, Bayern’s goal that ended the game was his fault. Held Martinez onside for his first effort, and then, the game was over.
Chiellini 5.5 - Must have remembered the trouble from Mandzukic from the first leg, because he appeared nervous from the first minute. His passing was especially poor even for his standards, it seemed pressured and rushed. Defensively, did alright with Mandzukic’s threat.
Padoin 6.5 - Most thought that Padoin would be the worst player on the pitch, but he dignified himself with a great game. Made an impressive goal-saving tackle early on (though he kept Mandzukic onside, it must be noted) and did well getting forward, cutting inside, delivering simple but effective passes. May be redeeming himself in Juventus fans eyes.
’69 Isla s.v. - Got a few minutes in his legs, and despite the game being well over by the time he subbed in, worked hard on the flank.
Pogba 6.0 - The first half was excellent- he played physical, retained possession, and caused Bayern threats on the few occasions he moved forward. The second half was the complete opposite, he entirely disappeared. Still, a solid performance for a 20-year old in a Champion’s League Quarterfinal.
Pirlo 6.0 - Started out the game decent- not brilliant, but nowhere as poor as he was in Germany. Worked hard in midfield, but never was able to deliver a truly killer pass. Had a great free kick that Neuer saved.
Marchisio 4.5 - In the first few minutes, it looked like Claudio would have a good game, he was pressuring, he was making good forward runs, but unfortunately, the Prince was absent for the rest of the game, outclassed by Schweinsteiger. The few times he was on the ball, the result was very poor.
’79 Giaccherini s.v. - Subbed on, ran, nothing of note.
Asamoah 5.5 - Ran up and down the flank and held his own defensively, but it has become increasingly an issue that he’s not at all a wide player.
Quagliarella 6.5 - Fabio has probably been the most underused player in the team this year. Looked determined to make an impact and had Juve’s best opportunities all game, including a drive that struck the lower right post.
’66 Matri s.v - The game was over, the forwards got no support. Nothing to do.
Vucinic 5.0 - There were 2-3 times where Vucinic made a brilliant run through 3-4 Bayern players, showing individual skill and tenacity in keeping the ball. Unfortunately, that was about it. Big Game Mirko has failed to show up in pretty much any big game for most of this season, completely unlike his demolition jobs against Milan, Fiorentina, and Inter a year ago.
Conte 5.5 - The team started out well enough, a dramatic improvement over the match in Germany, but the Bianconeri became increasingly desperate as time went on. Once Bayern scored, the game was over. A great debut Champion’s League run, but a 4-0 aggregate loss is pretty heavy.
ANALYSIS WRAP-UP by Adam Digby
Conte made few changes to the first leg other than the two forced upon him. Aside from the inclusion of Pogba and Padoin, his inclusion of Asamoah over Peluso was seemingly there to balance the loss of the Swiss fullback’s attacking intent. The coach did allow his wingbacks freedom to attack by removing their defensive responsibility, instead opting to use Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini to nullify the threat of Robben and Franck Ribery when Juve were in possession.
However, that change was almost directly responsible for the second goal here as it left Leo Bonucci to cover the middle on his own and some smart interplay left the 25 year old with no chance to prevent Bayern scoring. On the whole, the two legs proved that the 3-5-2 – so vital to Scudetto glory in Serie A – is wholly inadequate against the continents top sides who attack with pace and quality which overwhelms the back three over and over again.
I’ve congratulated the lads, because I think winning the Scudetto and being among the top eight sides in Europe represents an extraordinary achievement.
But there are two ways to assess this game and, by proxy, Juve’s 2012-13 Champions League campaign as a whole. On the one hand, it is easy to look at the performance and say Antonio Conte was out-coached and Juventus outclassed by Jupp Heynckes’ marauding FC Bayern. That view is the one neutrals appear to hold as the Bianconeri crash out to last year’s runners up and leads to the inevitable debate about the weaknesses of Serie A compared to its German counterpart.
Perhaps the events of last weekend should have provided us with a clue for, as a much-changed Juve laboured to a 2-1 win over lowly Pescara, FC Bayern were celebrating sealing their twenty-third Bundesliga title. Holding an unassailable twenty point lead over the rest of the German league, they have enjoyed a similar dominance of the domestic scene that the Old Lady currently possess on the peninsula.
However, an alternative view would be to recognise the mitigating factors at work here and the inexperience of this young Juventus team. Not only had very few players ever ventured into Europe’s top competition before, Conte himself was making his personal debut in the elite tournament and will grow immensely from the experience.
He did so not only having been banned from the early matches of the campaign but also without two players who gave him genuine tactical options. With Mauricio Isla still not fully fit and Simone Pepe missing for the entire year, the 4-3-3 alternative used before was not available to the coach and that shape could certainly have helped here as much as the addition of the much lamented ‘top player’.
With this season under their belts, the Old Lady will undoubtedly return next season stronger than ever. Conte has often claimed Juventus must play ‘as if going to war’ and, given the coach’s love of a rallying speech, perhaps it is fitting the last word should go to iconic orator Winston Churchill who once said “this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Juventus 0-2 Bayern Munich – All Goals and Highlights Video