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Juventus 1-1 Sevilla: Talking points as Bianconeri narrowly avoid home defeat in Europa League semfinal

Veselin Trajkovic in Editorial, UEFA Europa League 12 May 2023

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Juventus played host to Sevilla on Thursday evening in the first leg of their battle for a place in this season’s Europa League final. In front of a packed Allianz Stadium in Turin, the two teams played a good game in which only a last-gasp header from Juventus substitute Federico Gatti prevented the visitors from taking an advantage into the rematch, after Youssef En-Nesyri broke the deadlock in the middle of the first half.

The game

The early stage of the match belonged to the Bianconeri, who had the best chance early on when Dusan Vlahovic missed a close-range shot over the crossbar after being found by Filip Kostic’s cross.

Sevilla, who have won the competition a record six times, have a reputation for capitalizing on opportunities like that, and they soon proved it by taking the lead. Lucas Ocampos received a crossfield pass from Bryan Gil, charged forward, and set up En-Nesyri to score the opening goal. However, an injury forced Ocampos off the pitch only eight minutes later, and his place was taken by Gonzalo Montiel.

Sevilla continued to threaten after scoring the first goal, prompting Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri to make two changes during half-time. It was Federico Chiesa who came on to replace Fabio Miretti, while Kostic made way for young Samuel Illing Junior.

However, it was two late substitutions that saved Juventus from their first-ever UEFA Europa League home defeat. Despite a lack of action in the second half which pretty much suited Sevilla, Paul Pogba’s well-placed header led to Federico Gatti scoring the equalizer seven minutes into stoppage time, much to the relief of Massimiliano Allegri and his men. As a result, the teams are tied going into the second leg in Spain next Thursday.

Samuel Illing Junior

Promoted to the first-team ranks, Illing Junior made his 14th senior appearance for Juventus by coming on for the second half of this clash, and though his presence on the pitch didn’t brought no change on the scoreboard, it certainly spiced things up and made the game more interesting.

One of the first things to note about this teenager was a complete lack of fear on such a big occasion as a European semifinal. He looked very lively from the moment he stepped out on the turf, always seeking to get involved and take on opposition players. Of the five he attempted, he completed three, showing considerable skill on the ball, and speed of thought as well as of foot. There were also understandable signs of inexperience, mirrored through a couple of wrong decisions on the ball in the final third, but the potential of this teenager is very considerable.

With two years remaining on his contract, Juventus might find themselves under pressure to relinquish Illing’s services at the end of next season, unless they move to secure his future at the Allianz Stadium with a new long-term deal.

Dugout views

Speaking to the press after the match, Allegri pointed out that his team had played well enough until En-Nesyri scored, moving the ball quickly and creating a couple of excellent chances. But from that point on, the Juventus boss admits a lot of things didn’t go to plan afterwards.

The Bianconeri were caught out on the counter several times and could’ve conceded again in a similar manner. However, Allegri also praised the effort his team put in to come back and believes their equalizer, as late as it came, was deserved.

Meanwhile, Sevilla head coach Jose Mendilibar bemoaned the fact that his team couldn’t quite stay at the same level in the second half as in the first. He says their idea was to press high and work to win the ball as close as possible to the Juventus goal, but as time wore on it became more and more difficult, until they were finally forced to defend a lot deeper than they had planned.


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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