Juventus is doing well. At the end of a tasteless performance in the Dragon stadium, the Old Lady lost only one goal against FC Porto (1-2). Struggling much of the game, Juve worried, even though their chances of qualifying for the Champions League quarter-finals were boosted by the away goal.
Who says history doesn’t repeat itself? After the defeat of his team against FC Porto in the Dragon stadium on Wednesday night (1-2), in the knockout stages of the Champions League, Andrea Pirlo will certainly not want to hear about this antiphon. Because his players started both halves of the match in the same way, conceding goals by Mehdi Taremi after 63 seconds of play in the first period (1st), then after 23 seconds in the second half (46th).
It is impossible to know if the Juventus players were still in the middle of their nap on their return from the locker room, but the huge blunder of Rodrigo Bentancur on the first goal and the passivity of the defense on the second, offered the Portuguese two perfect scenarios in this game. This season, FC Porto is a difficult team, with an impermeable defense: Sergio Conceiçao’s players had five “clean-sheets” in six C1 matches this season before the meeting.
“It’s going to be complicated, against a team that defends well. (…) We will have to be patient, without forcing our actions because they are very good against“, said Andrea Pirlo in a pre-match press conference. The coach of Juventus did not think so well. After the opener and the second goal of the Portuguese, Juventus simply broke the Teeth on a defensive block perfectly led by veteran Pepe (37) In the absence of Juan Cuadrado, his best passer, and with Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala substitutes at kick-off, Juventus did not look good.
Potential favorite for final victory in the competition – “the C1 is a goal, you have to believe it“, Pirlo explained before the meeting -, Juventus did not offer much against Porto. Adrien Rabiot was the first to frame a strike for the Turinese, from a bicycle taken out by the Portuguese goalkeeper. An opportunity obtained at the… 41st minute. Despite the nothingness in Turin, the Old Lady still managed to score the precious away goal, on a beautiful overflow from Rabiot concluded by Federico Chiesa (82nd), after a second more controlled half-time.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who made his return to Portugal, in the stadium where he scored the 2009 Puskas Prize with Manchester United, was completely absent from the debates. It must be said that FC Porto had also planned an anti-Ronaldo plan. “We know that at any moment Cristiano Ronaldo can decide the game. In front of him, you have to be compact, limit his spaces“, explained Sergio Conceiçao before the meeting. But tonight, FC Porto did not even have to force their defensive talent, contenting themselves simply to follow passive Torino attackers, in total lack of inspiration, who are somewhat caught on this goal which maintains the hope of qualifying.
The passivity of Andrea Pirlo’s players could even have been punished with a third Portuguese goal. Luckily for the Old Lady, Wojciech Szczesny was on the lookout following the solitary raid from Sergio Oliveira (52nd) and the strike from Jesus Corona (67th).
Juventus’ struggles are nothing new. As they aim for a tenth consecutive Italian league title this season, the club are going through a complicated season for Pirlo’s first year at the head of the club. The lack of control since the start of the season has simply been transposed to the Champions League tonight, when Juventus were able to go slap Barça at home, at Camp Nou, last December (3 -0).