Road to Cardiff: How Juventus reached the Champions League final
No other side has come close to matching Juventus’ defensive powers during this Champions League campaign, with Max Allegri’s men conceding just three goals in 12 games en route to Saturday’s Final against Real Madrid.
But they’re more than just a world-class backline. In fact, the best way to show Juve’s strength throughout the side is by looking back on just how they got this far…
Juventus 0-0 Sevilla (Matchday One)
An inauspicious start to the competition masked what was to come from the Old Lady. In fairness, they did dominate play and create a raft of chances, but failed to put one away. It’s a mistake they’d quickly learn from, scoring in each of their next seven UCL games.
Dinamo Zagreb 0-4 Juventus (Matchday Two)
Allegri’s men swept aside a Dinamo side who had beaten Arsenal at Maksimir Stadium in the previous campaign, but never had a chance of taking anything from this fixture. Miralem Pjanic opened the scoring with a deft finish in the 24th minute, before Gonzalo Higuain doubled their lead just moments later.
Pablo Dybala put the game beyond doubt with a rocket after the interval, before Dani Alves rounded things off with his first European goal for the club.
Lyon 0-1 Juventus (Matchday Three)
Juve rode their luck in France, with Gianluigi Buffon proving the hero for the millionth time (or so), saving Alexandre Lacazette’s first-half spot-kick. Mario Lemina didn’t help their cause by getting sent off in the 54th minute, but the Old Lady stayed firm at the back, and grabbed the win thanks to a stunning solo goal from Juan Cuadrado.
Juventus 1-1 Lyon (Matchday Four)
These two played out another hard-fought affair in Turin. Gonzalo Higuain looked to have put Juve on easy street by netting a coolly-taken penalty within 15 minutes. However, Les Gones battled back well, and grabbed a late equaliser from a free-kick.
Sevilla 1-3 Juventus (Matchday Five)
This was the visitors’ strongest performance of the group stage, though it didn’t get off to the best start, with Nicolas Pareja giving Sevilla the lead with a long-race scorcher.
Claudio Marchisio brought the Serie A giants level on the brink of half-time, before Leonardo Bonucci and Mario Mandzukic did the damage late on, to secure a deserved win.
Juventus 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Matchday Six)
This one secured top spot in the group, and while the game wasn’t a classic, home fans will have left the Juventus Stadium very happy.
Juve outpassed, outran and outclassed their opponents throughout. Higuain scored the first with typical ruthlessness, before Daniele Rugani wiggled away from Dinamo’s defence to net a second.
Round of 16
FC Porto 0-2 Juventus
The 2004 Champions League winners hadn’t lost at home in nine months heading into this clash, but Allegri’s men left that record in tatters with a display which combined the disciplined with the deadly.
The visitors dominated possession and wore down the 10-men of Dragoes, before striking twice in quick succession in the final 20 minutes. Marco Pjaca stuck away the first, before Alex Sandro’s beautiful lofted ball was flicked home superbly by Dani Alves. Job (almost) done.
Juventus 1-0 FC Porto
Having given themselves a convincing first-leg advantage (a regular theme from hereon in), Allegri’s charges took no risks in a quiet game where the visitors were limited to a mere two shots on target.
Dybala’s sweetly-struck penalty shortly before half-time took the Turin club’s aggregate lead to 3-0, and a comeback never looked like materialising from there. Efficiency at its finest.
Juventus 3-0 Barcelona
If Juventus Stadium had seen a functional display against Porto, they witnessed a fantastic one against a Barca side who simply had no answer to the tactical nous, fine finishing and robust strength of the men in black and white.
The home side registered just 32% possession on the night, letting Luis Enrique’s men attack, before hitting them on the break with devastating effect. Dybala was the star man once again, with the Argentine netting two inch-perfect finishes in the opening 23 minutes, before a Giorgio Chiellini header made it three after the break.
Barcelona 0-0 Juventus
Simply put, the Catalan giants huffed and puffed but couldn’t break the door down, as I Bianconeri became the first visitors to leave the Nou Camp with a clean sheet in 17 games.
A combination of solid defending, Buffon stops and (especially) poor finishing from Barca’s usually lethal strike-force saw Juve record safe passage to the Quarter-Finals without conceding a goal.
Monaco 0-2 Juventus
Allegri set his side up with a 3-1-4-2 system for this game, and the visitors’ tactical change worked a treat, as they upset the odds to shut out a Monaco side who hadn’t failed to score at home since November 2015 – and chalked up two hugely important away goals in the process.
Buffon produced an outstanding save from Kylian Mbappe early on, but the Serie A side took the advantage with a mesmeric goal, as Dani Alves and Higuain linked up on a spectacular move, with the latter finally finishing off the move in style. And the Brazilian set the prolific striker up once again for the second goal.
Juventus 2-1 Monaco
Mario Mandzukic calmed any nerves with a close-range finish after 33 minutes, before Alves rifled home a stunner from distance before the break to finish the job. Mbappe pulled one back for Les Monegasques eventually, but it was merely a consolation, with the likes of Pjanic and Sami Khedira proving tough to pass.
Right, that’s where we’re at so ahead of Saturday’s Champions League Final.
And it’s 19/20 for the Italians to end their 21-year wait for this trophy by any means.
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