Game in a sentence
Juventus continue their unbeaten streak and win their first Champions league round of 16 leg over Celtic.
- Juventus were heavy favourites before the game and ended the match with a convincing 0-3 victory over Celtic. The Old Lady entered the knockout phase on an unbeaten streak, conceding only four goals in the group stage. But Celtic also held bragging rights before the match with an interesting record at home against Italian teams. The club had not lost in their last eight games against a Serie A team. That record, of course, was broken today.
- Before the match even Antonio Conte said he wouldn’t underestimate Celtic after they beat the likes of heavyweights Barcelona in the group stage.
- The atmosphere inside Celtic Park was electric even before kick-off (as expected). It definitely had the energy found only in a World Cup or Champions League Final. Even when Juve were leading by three goals, the Scottish fans continued to cheer on their side. No wonder Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta called them the best fans in the world.
- Despite the fear that Celtic would play an ultra defensive game, Neil Lennon employed a very different tactic than the one we witnessed against Barcelona. The Scottish side attacked relentlessly. They played an open game and pressured high-up the pitch from the get-go.
- Within the first two minutes, Victor Wanyama had the first chance of the game with an explosive strike from a distance that caught Gianluigi Buffon by surprise, but the Italian keeper managed to block the shot quite effortlessly.
- Although Celtic attacked first, it was Claudio Marchisio that gave Juventus the lead in the first half after Celtic failed to clear the ball on Alessandro Matri’s attempt. Terrible defending from the Scottish side. The goal was later awarded to Matri as replays showed the ball actually did cross the line on his shot.
- Juventus played their usual passive style of football. Defending for the most part, but making it difficult for Celtic to muster any decent crosses and opportunities to score.
- While the Old Lady sat back for the majority of the match, they always seemed to be in control. They were exceptional at marking opponents and made it difficult for Celtic to operate in front of the net.
- Celtic, however, remained resilient throughout the match. Even when trailing, they continued to threaten, especially with James Forrest and Wanyama making strides deep into Juve’s side of the pitch. Kris Commons and Gary Hooper also continually menaced the Italian side’s defence.
- The main difference between the two teams lay in their capacities to finish. While Celtic had more scoring opportunities and possession, it was Juve that managed to capitalize on their chances.
- Celtic had 10 corners, but the absence of top scorer Georgios Samaras due to a hamstring problem was felt heavily. The Greek scored all his three Champions league goals on headers and provided the team up front with a physical threat that was missing today, especially on set pieces.
- Celtic’s best chance likely game in the 62nd minute when Charlie Mulgrew provided a beautiful cross from the left to Efe Ambrose, who headed it straight at Buffon. Still, a great effort from Ambrose, who only arrived in Glasgow this morning, after winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria. Tired legs probably affected his performance.
- Juve benefited from having Marchisio back in the line-up, who no only made an immediate impact in midfield, but also helped seal the win in the 77th minute along with Mirko Vucinic, who made it 3-0 in the 83rd.
- With less than five minutes to go, Nicholas Anelka also made his debut for Juventus, coming on for Vucinic. Not that it mattered at this point with the team already leading by three goals.
- I’m unsure how Celtic will approach the second leg of this match. They deserve credit for playing with their hearts on the line. Their performance was exciting, but they need to finish if they hope to advance to the next round.
- Former Scottish manager Kenny Dalglish said before the game, “if there’s a will, there’s a way.” And Celtic still have one more game to prove how badly they want this.