Real will be looking to dominate Zebres and end their UCL run.
On one side there is the passionate soldier who goes on and on protecting the crest, the man with a golden arm Gianluigi Buffon. Little would the young lad who joined from Parma have thought that several years later a day will come when the world will want him to win the Champions League irrespective of the side they support. Just like old wine, Buffon has turned into an exceptional player, rather an emotion for millions of football fans.
But, watching him miss out on the Champions League yet again in Cardiff was heartbreaking to say the least, as its the only dream that the grand old man of Turin has before hanging up his boots. This season the Old Lady have shown their quality with an excellent tactical win over Tottenham Hotspur and now they face the mighty Real Madrid.
So Juventus manager Maximiliano Allegri will have to be ready with some surprises up his sleeve for his French counterpart Zinedine Zidane and the Italian should learn from the mistakes he made last season which cost them the crown.
Khel Now takes a look at five things Juventus must do to keep Buffon’s hopes alive.
1. Prevent Real Madrid from scoring an away goal
One of the toughest jobs is to defend against Real Madrid’s swift counter-attacking play. The Los Blancos tend to score in each match they play and will hope to do the same when they visit Turin. Juventus, on the other hand, are known for their defence, but the Old Lady will face a serious test against Ronaldo and his teammates. Defensive general, Giorgio Chiellini is doubtful for the tie with Allegri hopeful of his main man’s return to the vanguard before the first leg.
The Old Lady have already faced a heavy blow as they will be missing Medhi Benatia and Miralem Pjanic for the first leg due to suspension. Wingers Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi still remain doubtful for the tie.
Real Madrid have always been lethal when they play first leg away from home
Chiellini has to start if Juventus want to keep a clean-sheet. Without their defensive ace, the the Old Lady will have serious loopholes in defence and Real Madrid have a knack of scoring away goals and ending the tie in the first leg itself. So, Allegri and his men need to be wary of the attacking threat that their opponents possess and act accordingly.
2. Be wary of Real Madrid’s counter-attacks
Real Madrid throughout the years have been known for their extremely swift counter-attacks. Madrid’s midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro are very influential in initiating the moves and will be the architects of the attacks. Ronaldo, who is always seems to be at the right place at the right time will act as a “fox in the box”. The wingers along with Marcelo and Dani Carvajal will look to stretch the defence and will pounce on every chance that comes their way.
Thus, Juventus should not make the mistake of holding a high line and Allegri should go with a conventional four-man defence. Juventus midfielders- Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi and others should look to close the passing lanes whenever opposition midfielders have possession. Kroos and Modric usually do not fail to pick out forward runs from Ronaldo and others with their exquisite vision and incisive passing which will make it an interesting battle in midfield. Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain will also need to drop back in tandem to support their midfield.
3. Juventus needs to win the midfield battle
Juventus are a key man down in midfield. Pjanic will miss the first leg due to suspension and it will be interesting to see how Allegri copes with the disadvantages and how he manages to overcome them. Khedira who will be up against his former team, will have the very subtle job of canceling out Kroos and Modric from midfield. The German will have an able partner in Matuidi. The Frenchman’s energy will be of great help as the duo will have to work tirelessly at the centre of the pitch to win the bout against the Spanish side.
The result will largely depend on the way Pjanic, Khedira and Matuidi links up
Both Khedira and Matuidi need to win back possession as much as possible and should not allow the Madrid midfield to dictate play. Failing to achieve the feat will mean a matter of minutes before Real find the back of the net. Khedira needs to sit back and cut out the passing lanes in midfield, whereas Matuidi needs to be the engine moving up and down in attack and defence accordingly. It is definitely a task cut out for the Juventus midfield, but it will be an exciting bout to watch.
4. Dybala and Higuain must deliver over both legs
Juventus’s deadly duo of Higuain and Dybala are scoring goals for fun in Serie A, helping the Old Lady claw their way back to the top of the Italian league. However, the duo was ineffective and somewhat non-existent in last year’s final. They need to come out of their shells and threaten the Madrid defence with their brilliant understanding and look to stretch the back four which hasn’t looked at its best this season.
Higuain will be the main man upfront and Dybala will play in a free role behind him. La Joya will look to augment the midfield by dropping deeper and on the other hand he will also look to show his stunning agility and goalscoring prowess. All in all, Dybala on his day can be a menace for any defence in the world and the young starlet needs to produce something of that sort to take his team into the next round.
5. Allegri must learn from the mistakes made by Unai Emery
Allegri must not repeat the same mistakes made by Unai Emery in the last round. Thankfully, the Juventus gaffer has a better defence in comparison to the that of PSG, which will help him to stop the likes of the Madrid attackers. Allegri should be very flexible with his tactics and should not fall prey to Madrid’s often mesmerizing midfield play.
In attack, Ronaldo scores most of the goals and takes away all the credit, but the main job is done by Karim Benzema, the Frenchman pulls defenders wide and creates space in defence for Ronaldo to make late runs. The much fabled Juventus defence must stay sturdy throughout the tie, but the main battle will be played out in midfield. The team that wins the midfield joust will have command of the game, Allegri should always have his trump cards up his sleeve and introduce them whenever he thinks necessary.
Unai Emery’s team lost 2-5 on aggregate
Zidane has used Isco subtly but effectively in the lineup. From adding numbers to the midfield, to aiding the forwards. So, Allegri needs to be very aware of the danger which the likes of Isco, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez possess when they come off the bench. Douglas Costa will add much-needed flair to the team, as the Brazilian is famous for his quick feet and mind-boggling trickery. Moreover, the tactician should always be a step ahead of Zidane and not let the French ace surprise him with innovative tactics.