Juventus v Celtic - UEFA Champions League Round of 16

Game in a sentence

There were no miracles on the pitch as Juventus triumphed over Celtic 2-0 (agg. 5-0).

Observations

  • The Old Lady started with Paul Pogba, who replaced Claudio Marchisio in midfield, and striker Fabio Quagliarella for Mirko Vucinic.
  • Nicolas Anelka was also on the injured list, but considering the way the Old Lady has been playing it clearly made no difference in this match.
  • Celtic were happy to have Georgios Samaras back in the lineup, who formed a key partnership with Kris Commons and Gary Hooper. Injured were Tony Watt, Scott Brown and Mikael Lustig (interesting last name, means funny in German).
  • Neil Lennon must have also been content that there was far less manhandling from the Italians on set pieces.
  • It was a phenomenal atmosphere in Turin. The stands reflected the black and white colours of the team. With some media pundits even giving this match the movie title of ‘Mission Impossible’, clearly referring to the Scottish side’s poor chances of coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the first leg.
  • It was a wet pitch in Turin, but luckily that didn’t create too many problems for either side.
  • From the get go, it was an exciting 90 minutes. Celtic wasted little time and started pressing immediately after the whistle blew. Both teams settled in quite speedily. And despite conceding the first goal, Celtic played a much better defensive game than in the first leg.
  • Beram Kayal and Samaras pushed forward with the help of Charlie Mulgrew and Joe Ledley. Their efforts to play the ball to Commons and Hooper faced stark opposition though. Juve frustrated the Scottish side, clearing the ball before they could make anything of it. The Italians remained defensively tight and neatly organized throughout the game.
  • Leonardo Bonucci was key in the Turin side’s defence, throwing his body in front of several shots. Pogba, Andrea Pirlo, and Arturo Vidal made it tricky for the opponents to penetrate deep into their zone.
  • Gianluigi Buffon, the team’s most assertive leader along with Pirlo, was constantly communicating with his defensive line. He was stellar in net (once again), having conceded only four goals in this competition. He also has four clean sheets in the past four matches.
  • Juventus remained calm and were silently commanding the match, even when the Glasgow side turned up the pressure. Pirlo reflected that control. He barely panicked even when he was swarmed by two to three opposition players.
  • At first it appeared Celtic may score the first goal, especially after producing several build ups. Ledley had one of the better goal attempts. But his long shot was too weak and went wide in the 21st minute.
  • Minutes after that attempt, the Bianconeri took the lead. Quagliarella’s initial attempt was saved by Fraser Forster, but Alessandro Matri got to the rebound to score in the 24th minute.
  • Celtic really needed to be more careful of Juve’s quick counterattacks. The Italian side caught the team off guard countless times with their speedy diagonal passes. They were lucky one of Vidal’s long shots went far above the bar.
  • As the game went on, it became quite apparent that Celtic had no chance of recovery.
  • But knowing the type of team this is, the deficit didn’t damper their spirits. Celtic soldiered on.
  • Mulgrew was a busy player. He was all over the field, moving from left to centre and trying to set up his team’s strikers. It’s not as if Celtic didn’t have their chances. The targets on goal were pretty balanced in the first half.
  • In the 35th minute, for example, Samaras rushed down the left flank. His cross ended up in front of Hooper, who was unable to get a proper touch on the ball to convert the chance.
  • Minutes later Kayal had another glorious opportunity, but his header fell straight into Buffon’s arms. That’s pretty much how it would continue into the second half.
  • Victor Wanyama, who wasn’t very effective in this match, was eventually replaced by Efe Ambrose (who supposedly missed the bus to the team’s training session before the game). It was later reported the Kenyan was suffering from a hamstring problem.
  • On the other end of the pitch, Quagliarella served as a nuisance for the Scottish side all night. Celtic clearly didn’t do enough to mark such a clear danger. They would soon pay the prize.
  • Matri and Quagliarella were a deadly pairing. In the 65th minute, Pirlo with is incredible vision made a diagonal pass to Vidal, who chested the ball and flicked it to Quagliarella who scored his fourth goal of the competition.
  • Juventus excelled at converting their chances even though they recorded less attempts for the night. It’s the ability to capitalize under pressure that determined why the Italian side were the better team.
  • As the match continued it was obvious all Celtic wanted was a single goal to at least exit the competition with a sense of dignity. While their wish wasn’t fulfilled, they definitely leave the Champions League with a spirit that was unmatched in the tournament.
  • As for the winners, Juventus have recorded their fifth clean sheet and continue their unbeaten streak.

Three Stars

Quagliarella
Buffon
Pirlo

Comments (2)

  1. So, now that we all know how bad of a team Celtic really are, I suppose we all should’ve pieced things together when Barcelona lost to them…

  2. I enjoyed your in-depth recap and the format of the article. A lot of match write-ups are maddeningly general in format and don’t really tell you a lot about what really happened.

    Didn’t have time to catch this match. But this excellent recap almost makes me feel as if I did.

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