26.11.2015 10:56 - in: Champions League S

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    The Bianconeri prove that possession is not everything in last night’s 1-0 win over Manchester City to maintain their 16-match unbeaten run in European competitions at Juventus Stadium

    “Our good form in Europe, getting to last year’s final and kicking off this campaign in a similar vein by beating our main rivals Manchester City and Sevilla shows that we’re very comfortable in this competition. We feel at home in Europe.”

    These were the words of Claudio Marchisio on the eve of Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City at Juventus Stadium and sure enough, the Old Lady of Italian football produced yet another assured and confident performance on the European stage to usurp City at the top of Group D. 

    As a result, it’s safe to say that Marchisio and co. are starting to build some momentum: yesterday’s win was the Bianconeri’s tenth in their last 16 home matches in European competitions, the other six of which were drawn, their second in as many months against Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City and their fourth in a row in all competitions. 

    As had been discussed in the build-up to the game, a draw would have been enough to secure Juve’s safe passage to the last 16 for the seventh time in nine UCL appearances.

    Yet, Mario Mandzukic’s second goal in three Champions League games (Massimiliano Allegri’s men have won every time the Croatian has scored this season), ensured the job was completed in some style. 

    Although the visitors would dominate possession on the night, seeing 58.9 per cent of the ball over the 90 minutes, it was Juve that would strike first through Mandzukic to continue their run of winning every one of the last eight fixtures in which they have taken the lead. 

    From then on, barring a few fleeting scares from Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling late on, the Bianconeri bore the mark of a side that is gradually growing in confidence and menace in the final third. 

    Inviting their visitors to keep possession in unthreatening areas and then choosing their moments to break forward in numbers wisely, Allegri’s charges registered five shots on target to City’s two, taking 11 overall in the Citizens’ penalty area. 

    Manchester City (right) had plenty of possession between the halfway line and Juve's penalty box but rarely got in behind the Bianconeri backline

    One of which, the game’s winning goal of course, came from yet another Alex Sandro assist, the Brazilian’s third in as many appearances following similarly crucial interventions against Torino and Milan in the past three weeks.

    The wing-back’s creative instincts are bettered only by Paul Pogba (four assists) this season, though it was the Frenchman’s driving run that found the 24-year old in space on the left-hand side in the build-up to Mandzukic’s opening goal. 

    Added to Gianluigi Buffon and Patrice Evra’s landmark 100th appearance in the Champions League, with Evra becoming just the second Frenchman to do so behind Thierry Henry, there were indeed plenty of reasons to celebrate for the Bianconeri at Juventus Stadium last night. 

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