Juventus director Giuseppe Marotta pulled no punches in declaring the importance of the Round of 16 tie with Borussia Dortmund. “The players know that there is an important prize up for grabs. Between the first and second leg, we are gambling the entire season.”
Having reaffirmed their domestic dominance during Antonio Conte reign, progression through the Champions League knock-out phase is just as important as a fourth successive Scudetto. From his first Press conference Massimiliano Allegri made it known Juventus ought to be targeting the last eight.
In welcoming Jurgen Klopp’s chameleonic Dortmund side to Turin they completed the first part of the European mission. First half goals from Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata give the Bianconeri something to defend when they visit Signal Iduna Park in three weeks. The advantage is only a slender one following Giorgio Chiellini’s slip and an inability to finish promising opportunities, but Juve will be quietly confident after the first leg.
Allegri had a plan to combat Dortmund and for the most part it succeeded. It surrendered greater possession to the Germans and limited space for their lightning quick attackers to exploit. It also required making the most of opportunities at the other end and the strik888博彩ers did just that. “We prepare博狗62d this tactic, to invite Borussia forward, clog the midfield and therefore create spaces behind them,” Allegri said afterwards.
Juventus turned the tables on Dortmund to utilise the counter-attack to good effect, the visitors caught cold on both goals by the directness of Juve’s approach. Morata and Tevez created headaches for Borussia’s defence. When the Old Lady attempted to play through midfield they were crowded by a swarm of yellow and black and turned the ball over frequently.
The scorers adorned the front page of Italy’s major newspapers on Wednesday and going forward Allegri may have found his main attacking combination, especially in Europe. La Gazzetta dello Sport called the Spaniard the protagonist of Tuesday’s win, one in which he continued a rich vein of form.
2015 has started promisingly for Morata. A Coppa Italia goal against Verona in mid-January was the breakthrough strike the ex-Real Madrid striker needed following a barren two-month spell. The winner against Borussia was his fourth since. He’s also been handed more starts this calendar year, with Tuesday representing the sixth. Tevez’s goal was his 20th in all competitions this term.
Fernando Llorente will still have a role to play, but as seen against Borussia, the current pairing makes for a more dynamic forward line. And with the Argentine free to roam it can leave Llorente isolated, his movement not as vast as Morata’s. “We’ve been playing together more regularly and you can see that on the field,” Tevez commented on his and Morata’s partnership.
Juventus are away at Roma this Monday for Serie A’s top of the table encounter. Nine points clear of the Giallorossi, a Bianconeri win will effectively seal the Scudetto – even if they wouldn’t admit to it. Roma are desperate to turn their flagging season around – no win at home since November and only three in the past 11 matches – but have a poor recent record against the Old Lady. They’ve taken maximum points at home just twice in the past 10 meetings.
With their Scudetto ambitions on the line it’s a must-win encounter. Not only that, but Napoli are snapping at their heels. Roma will have fewer days rest after facing Feyenoord in the Europa League, but their only option is to go all out to keep the dream alive.
Allegri will need a replacement for Andrea Pirlo, injured against the Germans. He could miss the second leg too. Claudio Marchisio is likely to anchor the midfield, potentially o365足球论坛pening the door for Stefano Sturaro to make his debut or return Arturo Vidal to his natural midfield role.
The Bianconeri have done the job in one big match. As March dawns they face a number of decisive contests, starting with the Stadio Olimpico showdown. Extending the lead in Serie A will also mean greater focus can be placed on what happens in Germany. After all, that’s their gamble.