Like, seriously, you guys. Holy. Freaking. Crap.
Those of you who know the man writing this post has a pretty good knowledge of how more optimistic than doom-and-gloom I tend to be even when Juve isn’t playing all that well. It’s just natural. I just can’t help. Yet, when a buddy of mine — somebody who just so happens to be an old Juventus Offside cohort — asked me about my mindset about going into Tuesday night’s second leg. “Juve’s gonna need one of their best performances of the season and I really don’t know if they can do it against THIS opponent,” is what my text back to him said.
I shall eat crow. I love the crow.
Juventus didn’t just deliver one of their best performances of the season, they delivered the absolute perfect performance of the season to flip the 2-0 aggregate scoreline after the first leg three weeks ago in their favor. Behind a Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick — that’s eight in the Champions League for him, by the way — and Federico Bernardeschi being an absolute monster in the final third, Juve recorded a 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid to take the tie 3-2 on aggregate and advance to the Champions League quarterfinals.
This is not a typo.
This is not me living in a fantasy world.
The dude Juventus signed for nine figures to lead them to Champions League glory just dropped a hat trick on one of the teams he’s terrorized the most in his storied career.
Juventus’ manager, one that has been under fire for weeks now for how his team plays so conservatively, just went out and had his squad put forth the performance we could have only dreamed about. Juve’s pressure was absolutely relentless — and it didn’t drop off, either. Against a team known for its own high-pressure game plan, Max Allegri put out the kind of performance where Juventus essentially out Atleti-d Atleti.
As I said in the match preview, Juventus needed to have a near-perfect performance to even have a chance at flipping the scoreline in their favor.
What we saw Tuesday night was, unquestionably, the perfect performance.
And all of it came after Juve what looked like a sure-thing goal taken off the board after Ronaldo “crashed” into Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak early in the first half.
After that, though, it wasn’t just Juve giving Oblak a few things to do. The short version of it is that Juve put Atletico Madrid’s defense under siege. The pressure didn’t die off. Instead, Juventus’ pressure just kept coming in waves. Maybe Atleti expected Juventus to die off at some point so that they could play their classic counterattack kind of game.
That never arrived, though.
And now we’re talking about Juventus overturning a two-goal first leg deficit without the help of any away goals. Just go ahead and add it to some of the other European craziness that Allianz Stadium has seen in its short history of its doors being open.
As a man by the name of Chuks said on his Facebook page a few minutes ago: “Football, bloody hell …”
Now, somebody help me get my heart rate down.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Cristiano Ronaldo Champions League goals actually benefiting Juventus. Good times.
- Remember when a lot of us were thinking that Max Allegri wasn’t the right guy to lead this Juventus squad on a deep Champions League run? The man needed his team to show up Tuesday night — and holy crap did they ever. He had that team prepared as well as they possibly could have, and they delivered the goods.
- For as good as Atletico Madrid looked in the first leg, it was the complete opposite in the second leg. Juventus needed a lot to go right in the second leg, but Atleti not being Atleti in Turin was crucial — and they got it.
- Allegri was basically forced to roll with Leonardo Spinazzola because of Alex Sandro missing out on the second leg due to suspension. Young Leo repaid his manager’s faith in him with one hell of a game before he came off for Paulo Dybala.
- Rough estimate, but I think Blaise Matuidi covered about 350 miles of ground. I’ll check back with a more updated figure once I actually can breathe again.
- Blaise Matuidi had six tackles.
- Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez combined to have three tackles.
- Federico Bernardeschi had just a stupid, stupid turnover in the attacking third about midway through the first half. That was pretty much the only mistake he made in about 75 minutes worth of fantasy football. He was everywhere, and that assist on Ronaldo’s first goal is something that reminds you just how dangerous that left foot of his. He was feeling so good about himself that even tried to send the Allianz Stadium crowd into a frenzy with a first-half bicycle attempt. I’m sure Spike and Wendy were wondering what the hell got into dad when they were watching on the big screen TV at home.
- Speaking of dudes who had themselves a night, Emre Can show up big time — especially in the first half as Juve were establishing their high-pressure setup. There were times when it looked like he was playing in a back 3 as he man-marked Alvaro Morata. There were other times where he was out wide and driving the attack forward. Basically, Emre Can be as good as he’s been all season in a game where they needed their midfield to show up big time.
- Five of Juventus’ 10 outfield players touched the ball at least 85 times. That is just insane.
- Within a couple of minutes at the end of the first half, there was a shot of Giorgio Chiellini bleeding and then Mario Mandzukic needing some assistance from the trainers after getting something done to his thigh (which didn’t look good at all). It was at that point that we should have known that Juventus was going to do the damn thing.
- Moise Kean getting non-garbage time minutes in a crucial Champions League game. That brings me lots and lots of joy.
- As corny as Juventus’ social media campaign of “#GETREADY TO COMEBACK” was, hey, it turned out to be right. TAKE THAT, HATERS.
- I still can’t believe this actually happened. Good luck trying to get me off this high for the next week or two. That was the best time for Juventus to prove me wrong. (Until they obviously have to do it again in the Champions League because this is Juventus.)