Sevilla showed that Juventus will not have it all their on way in Champions League Group H, as the Europa League holders frustrated the Italian champions and left Turin with a 0-0 draw.
Massimiliano Allergi’s men defeated Sevilla 2-0 at home in the group stage last term, but on this occasion they came face-to-face with a team out to frustrate them from the start and the visitors’ plan was ultimately successful.
They did not start well, though, as Juve began brightly and went close twice in quick succession early on, only for Sami Khedira to waste both chances.
Sevilla soon woke up defensively, however, and Jorge Sampaoli’s men were successful in stifling their hosts for a significant period, though they could do little more than watch when Gonzalo Higuain nodded against the crossbar after an hour in Juve’s best opportunity.
Brilliant defending from Nico Pareja shortly after denied Dybala an easy finish as the hosts began to up their intensity towards the end, but Sevilla held strong at the back and Sergio Rico’s late save from Alex Sandro clinched a commendable point.
Allegri stressed before the game that the first match is always the most important of any group stage and his side certainly appeared to buy into that approach early on, going agonisingly close twice.
First, Sevilla surrendered possession in their own half and Dybala pounced, racing forward and finding Khedira in the area, only for the Germany international to drag his effort wide.
Khedira had the chance to atone for that miss when he was released by Dybala again in Juve’s next attack of note, but the midfielder could only shoot straight at Rico when one-on-one.
Sevilla, who deployed three defensive midfielders, were solely focusing on frustrating their hosts and began to look more solid as the first half progressed, ultimately having little trouble keeping Juve at bay until the break.
Juve continued to struggle to break Sevilla down early in the second period, but Sevilla had a lucky escape when Higuain outsmarted Pareja with his movement and headed Dani Alves’ pinpoint cross against the crossbar.
Sevilla’s introduction of Joaquin Correa injected some energy to their attack and he swiftly caused Juve problems, turning Giorgio Chiellini inside-out with clever footwork before blasting well wide.
Juve quickly had Sevilla back on the defensive, though, and only a crucial touch from Pareja prevented Dybala tapping in Alves’ teasing right-wing delivery.
Miralem Pjanic’s entrance for the last 22 minutes brought a little more craft to Juve’s attack and he almost set Higuain up for the winner with an inviting low ball in towards the near post, but again Pareja was there to intercept.
Juve piled the pressure on in the closing stages and almost secured victory with another chance in stoppage time as Alex Sandro headed Alves’ cross goalwards, only for Rico to produce a fine stop to earn his team a valuable point.
Key Opta Stats:
– Prior to this draw, Juventus had scored in 21 consecutive games at the Juventus Stadium in all competitions.
– Juventus have never lost their opening game in the Champions League group stage (10 wins and seven draws in 17 seasons).
– The Italian champions have won only one of their last seven Champions League games.
– Juventus only had two touches in the opposition box in the first half, both by Sami Khedira.
– This was Khedira’s 50th game in the Champions League and his fifth for Juve.
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