17 March 2016
The nature of Juventus’ Champions League exit on Wednesday night at the hands of Bayern Munich provided plenty of reasons for them to hold their heads high.
They became the team to have scored the most goals (four on aggregate) against Pep Guardiola’s men this season, while they came within two minutes of enhancing their impressive record of reaching the next knockout round in UEFA competitions after drawing the first leg. Even after last night, they have managed to do so six out of eight times in their history.
Guardiola’s Bayern are well accustomed to seeing the majority of the ball in whichever game they play and yesterday’s was no different, as they executed 925 passes (in contrast with Juve’s 306), enjoyed three-quarters of possession and whipped in over three times as many crosses than the visitors (35 to 11).
For all the hosts’ pressing and possession, however, they ultimately produced fewer shots on target than the Bianconeri (7 and 11 respectively), providing definitive proof of the sterling defensive work carried out by each member of Massimiliano Allegri’s outfit and the genuine danger that they posed on the counter-attack.
Further evidence for their grit, determination and strength of character is also forthcoming from the number of tackles made by Juventus – 23 compared to Bayern’s 18 on the night.
Gigi Buffon’s 90th Champions League appearance saw Juve’s captain put in yet another commanding display between the sticks and become the club’s most capped player in the competition.
For Paul Pogba, there was a first Champions League strike of the season to celebrate. His fifth-minute finish was Juventus’ fastest goal in all competitions this term. The Frenchman also created four scoring opportunities (more than any other Bianconero) and completed 100 per cent of his dribbles.
Several other team-highs came the way of Alex Sandro. The Brazilian put in a fine showing down the left wing, sending in six crosses, winning four tackles and touching the ball 65 times.
Alvaro Morata continued his impressive form in Europe’s premier club competition. His bamboozling run and lay-off for Juan Cuadrado’s goal took the Spaniard’s tally to five strikes and two assists in nine Champions League appearances.
Meanwhile in defence, Leonardo Bonucci stepped in with the highest number of interceptions (four), while Andrea Barzagli and Patrice Evra each made seven clearances.