Juventus
    18.04.2017 11:40 - in: Champions League S

    Juve on the road in Europe

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    Juventus are four from four on the road so far in the Champions League. Each win has shown why they can get a result in Barcelona on Wednesday…

    From the pre-match spectacle to the atmosphere over the course of the 90 minutes, the first-leg victory over Barcelona last week confirmed everything we knew about Juventus on home turf.

    The electricity in the air – typical of any big European night in Turin - before kick-off was translated into one of the finest performances ever seen at Juventus Stadium in its six-year existence.

    Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini’s goals were the reward for a complete team performance, setting up a commanding 3-0 lead while establishing a new club record of 18 consecutive home matches without defeat in the Champions League.

    Until last Tuesday night however, all of the Bianconeri’s most significant results and eye-catching performances in the tournament so far had come on the road: home draws with Sevilla (0-0) and Lyon (1-1) meant that Juve would have to wait until the final match of the group stage against Dinamo Zagreb to register maximum points at Juventus Stadium for the first time.

    In fact, Juventus are the only side left in the UCL to have won all four of their away games, conceding just once in the process.

    From Croatia to Portugal, we have seen Juve demonstrate their differing qualities in all four of their away ties so far, producing four different performances all with the same result.

    Consistency in defence has been the common theme throughout but in Zagreb, Lyon, Seville and Porto, the Bianconeri have already shown that they possess all the other necessary tools to get a positive result again against Barcelona on Wednesday night…

    1. Attack vs. defence: Zagreb 0-4 Juventus

    The most comfortable of the four away fixtures so far, Juve made light work of Dinamo Zagreb at the Stadion Maksimir in September.

    Facing a packed home defence, away win number one was earned by the Old Lady’s superior individual quality in the final third in a game that she dominated from the first whistle until the last.

    It took a fortunate ricochet on a searching Leonardo Bonucci pass for Miralem Pjanic to break the deadlock, but from then, Allegri’s men were ruthless in front of goal. Pjanic superbly turned provider to tee up Gonzalo Higuain later in the half, the Argentine taking one touch on his chest before guiding into the corner on the run.

    Paulo Dybala’s long-range screamer – his first strike of the season at the time - kicked off what has gone on to be a breakthrough European campaign for Juve’s number 21 before Dani Alves’ deflected free-kick closed proceedings late on.

    2. The big moments: OL 0-1 Juventus

    The first of three games to be swung by a red card, it took three miraculous saves from Gianluigi Buffon and a wonderful finish from Juan Cuadrado to see Juve over the line against Lyon on Matchday 3.

    Following Mario Lemina’s dismissal after just 30 minutes, the Bianconeri repeated their tendency to show the very best of themselves when their backs are against the wall and the pressure is on.

     

    Buffon’s spectacular stops from Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty, Nabil Fekir’s wickedly deflected shot and Corentin Tolisso’s header from point-blank range probably had Juve fans believing that whatever happened, this would be their night and Cuadrado was the man to confirm that feeling.

    Allegri's introduction of the Colombian late in the second half changed the complexion of the game; playing as a wide forward, Cuadrado was able to cover Juve’s depleted right side in defence while ensuring that lone frontman Higuain was not isolated in attack.

    Having a goalkeeper like Buffon always gives you a chance to win games and Juan made sure Juve took one of their few chances on the night, smashing into the net at the near post after a trademark side-step in the box.

    A smash and grab result that confirmed not only the Bianconeri’s resilience when playing with a man fewer but also Allegri’s ability to change games with his substitutions.

    3. Resilience and depth: Sevilla 1-3 Juventus

    As had been the case the previous season, Juve headed to southern Spain needing to beat Sevilla to claim ownership of top spot in Group H.

    Where they failed in 2015/16, they demonstrated their credentials as dark horses for the trophy this time around.

    It looked as though Juventus would be suffering the same fate again early on as Dani Parejo’s opening goal and a ferocious early onslaught from Jorge Sampaoli’s men put them firmly on the back foot.

    A red card for Franco Vazquez and a penalty-spot equaliser on the stroke of half-time from Claudio Marchisio overturned the Andalusians’ territorial advantage and put Juve firmly in control.

    There was a degree of fortune about the game’s deciding goal – undoubtedly a key part of any run to a European final – which nonetheless still needed to be taken advantage of.

    Moise Kean’s physical presence in the box – another late and decisive change from Allegri – triggered a moment of confusion in Sevilla’s defensive ranks, allowing Leonardo Bonucci to clinically drill home into the bottom corner with his left foot.

    Mario Mandzukic added a third in stoppage time. A huge result when it mattered the most.

    Solidity and patience: Porto 0-2 Juventus

    Going to Porto’s Estadio do Dragao was never going to be easy, especially when you consider that Nuno Espirito Santo’s side had not lost at home since April 2016, so for the Bianconeri to come home from Portugal with a 2-0 victory was no small feat.

    By the time this tie came around, Juve were beginning to grow into a new 4-2-3-1 system that allowed greater control of possession and even more defensive solidity.

    Both came to the fore in the first leg of the last 16, albeit aided by Alex Telles’ first-half dismissal for two bookable offences.

    As in Lyon and Seville, this victory was fruit of the Old Lady’s ability to adapt to matches, vary up her approach and find solutions.

    Juventus' adoption of a 4-2-3-1 formation has given a boost to their European hopes

    Faced by another packed midfield and defence, Juventus had two options to break through, either playing between the lines into the feet of Sami Khedira and Paulo Dybala or by using their numerical advantage down the flanks.

    Completing 91 per cent of their passes, Allegri’s men chipped away at the Porto defence with patience and composure, building the pressure without forcing the play unnecessarily.

     

    The improvisation and match-winning touches came from Dani Alves and Marko Pjaca down the right-hand side – once again, both from the substitutes’ bench – Pjaca’s directness and unpredictability in particular picking the Porto lock.

    A rock-solid defensive base and intelligent midfield pairing combined with a collection of match-winning forward players was the key in Zagreb, Lyon, Seville and Porto and just might be again in Barcelona on Wednesday night.

    Juve have gradually grown into this year’s edition of the Champions League. On Wednesday night it will be time to see just how far they have come on in Europe when they step into the Camp Nou.

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