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Gianluca Nesci On April - 4 - 2013

Champions League Recap: In The Juventus Analysis

Juventus picked the wrong time to play their worst match since the days of Luigi Del Neri.

The Bianconeri were completely outplayed in every facet of Tuesday’s Champions League quarterfinal match with Bayern Munich, falling 2-0 in a contest that could easily have ended with a much more humiliating scoreline.

“We have to be honest and say the better team won on the night,” Antonio Conte told Sky Sports Italia after the match. “Seeing as we are coming back to playing at this level, it has to tell us how far away we are from the top teams in Europe.”

An already excited crowd inside the Allianz Arena didn’t have to wait long before the home side gave them something to cheer about. Less than thirty seconds, in fact.

David Alaba’s long-range strike took a deflection off the outstretched foot of Arturo Vidal, and completely fooled Gianluigi Buffon before finding the corner of the goal. Already coming into the contest supremely confident after a 9-2 thrashing of Hamburg over the weekend, Bayern were buoyed even further with the early lead. Their performance showed just that.

The men donning red kits were flying all over the pitch. They were full of energy, pace and invention – everything Juventus were not. Slow and laboured, Juventus were uncharacteristically sluggish right from the opening whistle.

The vaunted midfield of Vidal – who was by far the most influential player for the visitors; and at times seemed like the only player in black and white that was at all interested – Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo were blanketed by the Bavarian side. The latter in particular had an unusually poor game, often being caught on the ball and misplacing a surprising number of passes. “I am the first to say I’m not satisfied with my performance, as I made many mistakes in such an important match and it’s disappointing,” the bearded midfielder said.

While a 1-0 deficit would have been very manageable, it always seemed as though Bayern would double their advantage. Midway through the second half, Thomas Muller would do just that with the simplest goal he may ever score. After a long-range shot from Luiz Gustavo was parried by Buffon, Mario Mandzukic – who was all over the pitch for the hosts – picked up the rebound before sliding across to Muller for the tap-in.

While the goal was thoroughly deserved, there was a big slice of good fortune involved, as Mandzukic was in an offside position at the time of the effort from Gustavo.

Losing a match after conceding via a deflection and a missed offside call by the linesman would often allow for plenty of resentment from fans of the defeated side.

Juventini can have no such qualms after their club was utterly dominated in every facet of the contest. For much of the match, the reigning Serie A titleholders looked like they didn’t belong on the same pitch as the soon-to-be German champions, as they were unable to string a series of passes together as a result of Bayern’s high pressure on the Juventus defenders.

While the combination of Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Matri were the difference over the weekend against Inter, the duo was completely ineffective against the Bavarian giants. With Bayern pressing high up the pitch, Juventus desperately needed someone with exquisite control who could receive a long ball and hold it up, allowing the midfield to get forward and launch an attack.

That man was glued to the bench for 65 minutes.

While he only made a slight difference, Mirko Vucinic was at the centre of the few openings Juventus created. The Montenegrin was able to drop into his own half, pick up the ball and create space for his teammates by either holding off defenders, or running at them.

For all of his incredible work since arriving in Turin, Antonio Conte was off the mark with his tactics on this occasion. Whether the correct tactics would have made much of a difference is unknown. But given the lackluster individual performances from the Juventus players – along with the incredible energy and tempo of the German side – it may not have changed anything at all.

Bayern were full-value for their victory, and will count themselves unlucky not to carry a larger advantage with them to Italy for the second-leg on April 10.

Conte and his men will need to conjure up something very special to overturn the deficit and qualify for the semifinals. “We know football is unpredictable and it’ll be an incredibly difficult task to go through, but we take it as experience and try to improve where we need to improve,” Conte said.

The Bianconeri have the horses to do so – even without the now suspended Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner – but unless they can produce their best-ever performance in the Conte era, their Champions League adventure is slipping away.

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