Juventus 2 -Tottenham 2: Spurs belong with the very best
This is why we love the Champions League!
It was hectic in the opening 45 minutes at Juventus Stadium and Juventus could and should have gone in 3-1 up at the break.
Somehow Spurs were still in the tie at half-time but the warning signs were there. In the Italian morning papers in fact!
Once Gonzalo Higuain crashed a penalty against the bar, Spurs never looked back.
If the possession in the first half was stark, in the second half it was virtually one way traffic from Tottenham.
It’s 2-2 and Spurs have had their warning – what a second leg we have in store at Wembley in three weeks time!
Arrigo Sacchi warned Tottenham in Gazzetta dello Sport!
On Tuesday morning, pink Italian newspaper Gazzetto dello Sport produced a column on Tottenham’s tactics and how Juventus could exploit them.
Writing said piece was Arrigo Sacchi, the legendary former AC Milan and Italy coach.
Sacchi: “Tottenham’s weak spot is in defence. When they can’t press the ball, all their limitations are exposed. Sanchez and Vertonghen are good in the air but not very quick. The full-backs push on a lot; the midfielders are slow. Spurs are at their best when they have the ball, in aerial play and on the break.”
The legendary coach continued: “This is a modern team hoping for a better future, but perhaps today they are not yet ready to face a top team like Juventus. For Tottenham, Juventus are the worst team they could have drawn, not just because of their current form, but for the particular characteristics of this winning machine.”
Massimiliano Allegri blitzes Mauricio Pochettino & Spurs
It is quickly becoming a theme in Spurs matches that goals go in early, especially in recent weeks.
It took just 11 seconds for Tottenham to score past Manchester United at Wembley. Four days later it was the turn of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah to notch after three minutes.
On Saturday, Arsenal played well in the first half, at least defensively and seemed aware that Tottenham would fly out the blocks.
Why were Spurs caught cold?
So, why were Spurs not ready for the Juventus onslaught early doors?
Perhaps it was the atmosphere, after all, most Italian sides struggle at the Juventus Stadium?
Or, it was the experience in this Juventus side, which has reached two of the last three Champions League finals.
Either way, Allegri implemented a brilliant tactical plan.
Juventus surprise Spurs and Dembele
Moussa Dembele was incredible in the first 45, after the initial onslaught, the Belgian is slow on the ball and Juventus took advantage straight away.
A foul was won off the back of two Dembele fouls, Miralem Pjanic chipped a free-kick over and there was Gonzalo Higuain with an unnerving finish.
Seven minutes later Spurs were still shell shocked when Federico Bernadeschi was fouled by Ben Davies. Penalty. 2-0 Juventus.
Considering the Old Lady had let in one goal in 16 matches prioer to the clash with Spurs, even 180 minutes felt tough for the side from London to turn this round.
Douglas Costa in a free role!
The ket tactical take away from Sacchi which was implemented by Allegri concerned this statement:
“Sanchez and Vertonghen are good in the air but not very quick. The full-backs push on a lot; the midfielders are slow.”
Even regular watchers of Juventus were surprised by Allegri’s key decision: Douglas Costa in a free role through the middle.
With Higuain playing a brilliant first half, up until his penalty miss, it was left to Costa to make things happen.
Costa & Bernadeschi win Juventus penalties
Juventus usually play Costa or Bernadeschi on the right, not both in the same side. Injuries to the likes of Paulo Dybala meant that both had to play.
Costa’s pace was a constant thorn in the side of Spurs in the first half even though Spurs had 67% possession.
The fact Bernadeschi could cut in on his left foot, away from Ben Davies’ preferred foot also allowed the Juventus winger to profit down the right.
Bernadeschi won the penalty, Costa won the second spot kick on the stroke of half-time. Juventus had their chance to put the tie out of sight.
Instead, Spurs took the plaudits and were the much more likely winners by the end, so how did Mauricio Pochettino turn it round?
How did Spurs take control?
Whether Mauricio Pochettino made a major tactical change at 2-0 down or at half-time will likely become clear in the coming hours.
Ultimately, and this is testament to a fine Premier League side, Spurs exerted their control through Moussa Dembele and Christian Eriksen.
Everyone knows this is how Spurs play, but Juventus, like Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal before them, couldn’t stop it.
DembPele & imperious Eriksen
So good was Dembele he is being nicknamed by Tottenham fans as “DembPele”. And, his mazy runs through midfield are so difficult to stop, it appears the Belgian injured Sami Khedira.
Eriksen scored the equaliser, making Gianluigi Buffon look his age, but the Dane was once again imperious in a central midfield role.
By the end of the game, it was Spurs pressing Juventus back in their own corner and threatening to take three away goals back to Wembley.
What will Allegri have in store for the second leg?
Tottenham will be well aware though that this Juventus side is as wily as they come and Massimiliano Allegri is a coach skilled in the art of taking advantage.
Spurs made a statement in the Bernabeu earlier in the campaign and have made another in Turin.
But, with Paulo Dybala back for the second leg, Spurs have been warned…