Ronaldo Not Enough to Save Juventus Champions League Dream

No, this is not the right year either. Juventus bid farewell once again to their dream of winning the Champions League as they beat Lyon 2-1 at the Allianz Stadium in the second leg of their Round of 16 game but saw the French side advancing on away goals after winning 1-0 the first leg played 163 days ago at their home.

In the end, what made the difference was a controversial penalty awarded to Lyon early in the game. A questionable decision on the part of referee Felix Zwayer which put the Bianconeri in the need to score three goals in order to secure a then improbable qualification.

Juventus scored only two, both courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese was basically the only one to keep fighting until the end, preaching in the desert of a lineup that appeared tired and drained of energy by the domestic league tests. The Bianconeri collected very few scoring chances and managed to move the scorecard only thanks to another controversial penalty – this time in their favor – and a 20-meter screamer that CR7 invented out of nowhere.   

A sumptuous performance by Cristiano Ronaldo was not enough to extend Juventus’ European dream as the Bianconeri crashed out on away goals

For the most important game of the season, Maurizio Sarri chose Federico Bernardeschi over Paulo Dybala to complete his offensive line also featuring Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo. La Joya was still not 100% recovered from an injury. Juan Cuadrado was deployed as right-back instead of Danilo. For Lione, Rudy Garcia surprised the audience by lining up Karl Toko Ekambi rather than Moussa Dembélé to support Memphis Depay on the front line.

Juventus’ qualification hopes suffered a hard blow in the 11th minute already as Memphis Depay buried the penalty spot with a panenka to draw first blood for Lyon. The Bianconeri protested as Rodrigo Bentancur’s tackle on Houssem Aouar in the box seemed to hit the ball but referee Felix Zwayer confirmed his decision after checking the VAR.

Federico Bernardeschi led Juventus’ reaction with an impressive progression from the right flank. The Nazionale winger went all into Lyon’s box before Marcelo managed to stop him right before he could shoot. 

Juan Cuadrado’s cross for Gonzalo Higuain’s header in the 36th minute was the Bianconeri‘s next chance but the Argentine’s conclusion didn’t scare keeper Anthony Lopes at all. The Portuguese goalie, however, had to work much harder three minutes later to defuse a curling free-kick from his fellow countryman Cristiano Ronaldo.

Juventus equalized in the 41st minute as referee Zwayer leveled the count of controversial penalties awarding another one – this time to Juve, for a Memphis Depay handball, with the Dutchman’s arm not far from his body. Cristiano Ronaldo was stone cold to convert and revitalize the Old Lady just before the half time break.

Memphis Depay protests with referee Felix Zwayer as he believes his arm was well close to his body. But the German referee didn’t want to hear it…

Rudi Garcia’s side understood they needed to cover themselves and switched into full defense mode after the restart. The plan seemed to work until the one hour mark when Cristiano Ronaldo drew his trump card and powered a terrific screamer from 20 meters to complete Juventus’ comeback. 

After Garcia changed his offensive terminal by deploying Moussa Dembélé in place of Memphis Depay, Maurizio Sarri went for a double substitution in the 69th minute as he sent in Danilo for Juan Cuadrado and Paulo Dybala for Federico Bernardeschi to increase Juve’s offensive power. La Joya, however, lasted only 15 minutes before raising a white flag due to his injury creeping back. He was replaced by youngster Marco Olivieri.

Lyon didn’t change their plans and managed to control Juventus for the remaining part of the game, resorting to some rough play that earned them seven yellow cards but succeeded in keeping the white-and-black jerseys far from Anthony Lopes.

Only in the 93rd minute did Gonzalo Higuain manage to use all his experience to gain a free-kick from a favorable position, but CR7’s conversion was blocked by Lyon’s wall. And that was the end of it.

During the first half, right after the cooling break, somebody shouted from the Juve bench: “The game is still long. You have to  believe!” But the Bianconeri simply didn’t believe enough. That is exactly the sum of tonight’s game, and of Juventus’ endless European drought.


August 7, 2020 – Champions League 2019-20 Round of 16
JUVENTUS-LYON 2-1 (Lyon advance on away goals)

SCORERS: 12′ Depay (L, pen.), 43′ Cristiano Ronaldo (J, pen.), 60′ Cristiano Ronaldo (J)

JUVENTUS (4-3-3): Szczesny; Cuadrado (69′ Danilo), Bonucci, De Ligt, Alex Sandro; Bentancur, Pjanic (62′ Ramsey), Rabiot; Bernardeschi (69′ Dybala, 83′ Olivieri), Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo (Buffon, Pinsoglio, Chiellini, Dybala, Danilo, Matuidi, Rugani, Demiral, Olivieri, Muratore) Coach: Sarri
LYON (3-5-2): Lopes; Marcal, Denayer (60′ Andersen), Marcelo; Dubois (90′ Tete), Aouar (90′ Mendes), Guimaraes, Caqueret, Cornet; Ekambi (66′ Reine-Adélaide), Depay (66′ Dembélé) (Tatarusanu, Diomande, Rafael, Traoré, Jean Lucas, Bard, Cherki) Coach: Garcia

REFEREE: Zwayer (Germany)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Cuadrado, Bentancur, Sarri (J), Aouar, Dubois, Depay, Lopes, Cornet, Caqueret, Marcal (L); Extra Time: 1st Half 4′, 2nd Half 6′