Juventus lost 0-1 to Lyon in the first leg of their Champions League knockout stage game, writing another chapter of their tormented relationship with the top European competition. The Bianconeri still have plenty of chances to qualify, but it will take a different attitude to see them past the French side in two weeks.
Maurizio Sarri’s lineup was frankly a pity to watch and did not manage to shoot a single time at Anthony Lopes’ goal until very late in the game. The Juventus’ coach confirmed his three-man front-line featuring Paulo Dybala as falso nueve and Juan Cuadrado and Cristiano Ronaldo on the sides. Matthijs De Ligt retook his place back in defense alongside Leonardo Bonucci.
Former Roma manager Rudi Garcia, on the other hand, resorted to a three-man defense and Moussa Dembélé’s creativity to dispose of a frightened and apathetic version of the Old Lady.
Juventus tried to address the game according to their favorite script, accumulating ball possession which however didn’t lead them anywhere. Lyon replied by trying to surprise their opponents with a few counter-attacks.
The Bianconeri put together a few chances from the left flank, the most dangerous in the 5th minute – when Adrien Rabiot exchanged the ball with Alex Sandro. The Brazilian served CR7 on the far post, but Cristiano’s cross was not caught by Juan Cuadrado. That was all Juventus could produce.
Garcia’s men reacted and pushed the Old Lady to the ropes around the 30th minute of play. First, Toko Ekambi hit the crossbar; Then, U-21 midfielder Lucas Tousart made it to the scoresheet taking advantage of Alex Sandro’s bad positioning with Juventus temporarily playing with one man less due to Matthijs De Ligt suffering an injury.
It was a well-deserved advantage for the French side, which kept pushing for doubling the lead for the full first half, displaying an aggressiveness and hunger for victory which their opponents somehow seemed to have left in Turin.
Those who were expecting a reaction in the second half were indeed left disappointed. Aaron Ramsey replaced Miralem Pjanic, but the white-and-black’s approach remained soft and did not pose any threat to Lyon, which in turn limited themselves to control the game.
Paulo Dybala’s only shot went out of the target, while Cristiano Ronaldo failed to even see the goal but at least displayed some sort of aggressiveness. Coach Maurizio Sarri eventually gave space to Gonzalo Higuain and Federico Bernardeschi for the final assault, which only resulted in the Bianconeri protesting at two potential penalties disallowed by referee Jesús Gil Manzano.
Juve’s first and only challenge to Anthony Lopes was a header by the five-time Ballon d’Or in 83rd minute which the Portuguese goalie easily neutralized.
In two weeks at the Allianz Stadium, it will take much more than this pale, puzzling version of the Bianconeri for Maurizio Sarri and his troops to conquer Lyon’s scalp and continue their seemingly endless chase to the Champions League.
February 26, 2019 – Champions League 2019-20 Round of 16
SCORER: 31′ Tousart
|LYON (3-5-2): Lopes; Denayer, Marcelo, Fernando Marcal; Dubois (78′ Tete), Tousart, Bruno Guimaraes, Aouar, Cornet (81′ Andersen); Toko Ekambi (66′ Terrier), Dembelé (Tatarusanu, Traoré, Gouiri, Caqueret) Coach: Garcia|
|JUVENTUS (4-3-3): Szczesny; Danilo, De Ligt, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Bentancur, Pjanic (62′ Ramsey), Rabiot (78′ Bernardeschi); Cuadrado (70′ Higuain), Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo (Buffon, De Sciglio, Chiellini, Matuidi) Coach: Sarri|
REFEREE: Gil Manzano (Spain)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Marcelo, Cornet (L); Extra Time: 1st Half 3′, 2nd Half 5′