Bayern-Juve. The Champions League is alive and well!
What a game! Just as had happened in Turin, the visitors took a two-goal lead only for the home side to then draw level. But this time there was extra time to contend with, during which both teams - exhausted and terrified of committing any irremediable mistakes - showed each other great respect. Thiago, who had only been on the pitch a short while, tipped the balance to make it 3-2 by glided through a sea of bodies with absolute composure. Two absurd misses before this match had resulted in him getting an earful from Guardiola, but that didn’t seem to inhibit him last night. He got the job done like a true great. Coman, who is a superb winger, drove the final nail into The Old Lady’s coffin shortly afterwards. Juve are now out of the competition.
While Thiago provided the final push in the game, it was Morata who got the ball rolling. The former Real Madrid man was Juve’s biggest threat going forward while he was on the pitch and he set up the second goal with a mesmerising run, which Cuadrado capped off splendidly. In addition to his assist, the Spanish striker also had a lobbed goal wrongfully disallowed for offside. It’s not out of line to say that Juve held on with him on the field. All of Bayern’s problems were resolved in one fell swoop when Allegri took him off for Mandzukic. Without Morata to worry about, the Bavarians could push forward and attack. Allegri will have to give a very good explanation as to why he made that change because it stunk.
On the other hand, Guardiola used his subs wisely. The soon-to-be Man City boss took off Xabi Alonso, who wasn’t have much of an impact on the game, and replaced him with Coman, who teamed up with Douglas on the right flank. With this hybrid system of two wingers, a right footer and a leftie, Bayern kept probing on the right side of the pitch, but would also sporadically switch things over to the other side, where Ribery grew in stature as the night wore on. However, the danger lay in the Douglas-Coman partnership, from whose crosses the deficit was overhauled. Juve came undone in the final furlong. In keeping with their ‘slow and steady wins the race’ approach, Bayern needed the extra time to wrap things up. It was a fantastic game. The Champions League is alive and well!
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