Juventus welcomed Bayern Munich in the first leg of UEFA Champions League last 16 at Juventus Arena in Turin with the two teams playing an eventful match on Tuesday night.
Two completely opposite halves were at display tonight as Bayern were cruising to victory against the Old Lady, who refused to go down without a fight and staged a brilliant comeback from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw in front of a delighted crowd.
The first leg between the two European heavyweights offered plenty of excitement, but not during the first 45 minutes which ended up being one-sided event.
Dominant in possession with 77% of ball to their feet, Pep Guardiola’s men will be wondering how they failed to materialize the on-pitch supremacy in the match at Juventus Arena.
Gianluigi Buffon was a busy man having pulled a string of clearances to deny the visiting team in the opening stages.
Thomas Muller was the first one to test Buffon’s skills, but the German forward was off with his touch for most of the opening stages of the game, wasting a perfect opportunity from inside the box after an assist from Robert Lewandowski.
Juventus spent most of the first half doing what they do best.
Allegri’s defence line stood hard, solid and fluent, keeping Bayern Munich at bay, always ready to pounce on the counterattack at the slightest opportunity.
Home team did have rare ventures into the Bayern’s half, including the 13th-minute chance on the break, when Mandzukic stretched out to pick up Dybala’s pass, which was an inch far for the Croatian striker.
The Bavarians tried to spread the play to flanks, with Douglas Costa being the most prominent performer on the pitch. Together with Robben, the Brazilian winger used his speed to get past the opposition and fire dangerous crosses in the area.
It took Bayern almost the entire half to break the deadlock and it was exactly Thomas Muller, who put Bayern in front with his composed and easy finish from within the area, after a rebound in the box, only a minute before the half-time whistle.
Guardiola’s men kept pushing after the interval as well and the second goal came just ten minutes inside the second half.
Arjen Robben picked up on Lewandowski’s pass and has produced a brilliant solo effort which ended with a precise strike from inside the penalty area. The Dutch winger sent the ball into the left side of Buffon’s goal to make it 2-0 against, at the time, helpless Juventus.
The Introduction of Hernanes brought in the much needed pace and liveliness into Juventus’ play and the hosts were rewarded for their resilience at the hour mark.
Mario Mandzukic sent a fantastic ball through to Paulo Dybala, who steered into the area and fired the ball into the bottom right corner to make it 2-1.
A glimmer of hope set Juventus on fire as the entire team started playing completely differently. Bayern Munich were stunned by the comeback as they had expected to knock down the Italian giants and secure an easy win.
However, Massimiliano Allegri introduced Alvaro Morata and Stefano Sturaro, who proved to be proper game changers for the home side. Ten minutes after their first goal, Juventus got back completely in the game and they will have their second half subs to thank for the huge draw against Bayern Munich.
Alvaro Morata met a cross inside the box and headed the ball across the goal, where Stefano Sturaro poked it into the back of the net to make it 2-2.
Juventus have fought hard to get back from the dead following a dominant opening hour from Bayern Munich, but the two goals in 30 minutes made sure that the Old Lady remained in contest ahead of the second leg at the Allianz Arena.
It has been a morale boosting comeback for Massimiliano Allegri’s charges, who have now gone two matches without a win, following back-to-back draw at Bologna and now against the Bavarians.
JUVENTUS: Buffon 6.5 – Lichtsteiner 7, Barzagli 7, Bonucci 7, Evra 6.5 – Cuadrado 7.5, Khedira 6 (Sturaro 7), Marchisio 6.5 (Hernanes 7), Pogba 7 – Mandzukic 7.5, Dybala 7.5 (Morata 7).
Unused subs: Neto, Pereyra, Rugani, Zaza.
BAYERN MUNICH: Neuer 6.5 – Lahm 6.5, Kimmich 6, Alaba 6.5, Bernat 6.5 (Benatia 6.5) – Vidal 7 – Robben 7.5, Muller 7, Alcantara 7, Costa 7.5 (Ribery 6.5) – Lewandowski 7.
Unused subs: Alonso, Coman, Rafinha, Gotze, Ulreich.
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson
Other results this evening
Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona