Juventus 0-2 Bayern Munich: Bayern initially struggle with the tempo, then close out the tie

April 12, 2013

The starting line-ups

This was expected to be the closest tie of the Champions League quarter-final stage, but was actually won by the biggest margin.

Antonio Conte was without the suspended duo of Arturo Vidal and Stephane Lichtsteiner, so he played Paul Pogba and Federico Peluso. Mirko Vucinic returned to the side upfront.

Jupp Heynckes welcomed back Javi Martinez from suspension, but otherwise continued with the side that played the majority of the first leg, after Toni Kroos’ injury.

Juventus started the game brightly, but Bayern eventually took command and calmed the tempo of the game.

Juve pass quickly, Bayern stand off

Juventus were defeated in Turin primarily because they were unable to cope with the pace of the game. However, they clearly analysed that performance and understood the reason for their poor display, and they simply appeared better prepared for this contest. Within the first minute – the time when Bayern had taken the lead in the first leg – Juventus were knocking the ball across their own half quickly, skipping past Bayern’s forwards comfortably.

However, Bayern didn’t press as energetically as in the first game. Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Muller still worked hard, particularly in closing down Andrea Pirlo, but overall the German champions sat deeper inside their own half, inviting pressure and calming the tempo of the game.

Role reversal

It was the complete opposite situation from the first leg – there, Pirlo had been startled into his worst pass completion rate of his Juventus career, and here Bastian Schweinsteiger had a similar experience in the first half, misplacing passes and getting caught in possession as Juve kept the tempo high and made the central midfield zone a frantic battle. Juventus’ two ‘outside’ centre-backs were also brave with their positioning, moving high up to win the ball quickly.

Schweinsteiger was clearly trying to cool things down, but looked flustered and hurried in possession, seemingly causing his side to lose confidence. Just as Juve experienced with Pirlo last weekend, when your chief ball-playing midfielder is underperforming, the whole side’s passing suffers. Luckily, Bayern also had Javi Martinez to take control of the situation, although they could have done with Kroos dropping deep from the number ten role – his absence actually helped Bayern in the first leg, but here (and against Barcelona in the semi-finals), he will be missed.

By pressuring so well, Juve created chances in the first 25 minutes. The impact of Vucinic was obvious – he came short to collect the ball between the lines, but also spun in behind the defence. Balls out wide to Peluso also caused problems, and with Juventus getting good possession inside the Bayern half, Claudio Marchisio popped up in a couple of decent positions, having been anonymous in the first leg.

Bayern nullify the game

In hindsight, Juventus needed to score during this period. Once Bayern had weathered the initial storm, they took control and slowed the tempo down. The away side did create chances, particularly when Franck Ribery crossed the pitch to cause overloads with Arjen Robben on the right – but primarily, they concentrated on ball retention, shutting the game down.

Juventus were unable to press intensely for the duration, and gradually Schweinsteiger went from being the game’s weakest player, to the key man. Enjoying more space in midfield, he spent most of the second half wandering laterally across the pitch, collecting the ball from one full-back, before distributing it to the other. The difference between his performance in the two halves was huge.

Bayern held the ball in non-threatening positions, and while they scored two goals – one from a set-piece, the other in stoppage time when the contest was over – their primary quality was the way they killed the match.

Juve’s 3-5-2 formation wasn’t particularly helpful in this regard – with no-one in a permanent position to shut down Philipp Lahm and David Alaba, Bayern found ball retention easy. Schweinsteiger’s passes were generally lateral and unambitious – although he did set up Claudio Pizarro for Bayern’s second.

Conclusion

Juventus had clearly understood their task at hand, and – despite the identical scoreline – improved significantly from the first leg in terms of tempo and pressing. Ultimately, however, they’re simply not at the same standard as Bayern, and unable to dominate matches at this level as impressively as Heynckes’ side.

They wobbled in the opening minutes, but Bayern showed great flexibility in this tie. Tempo was the key – they ramped it up to startle Juve into submission in Munich, then closed out the second leg with relentless possession. That maturity and adaptability indicates that they have an excellent chance of winning this competition.


Juventus 0-2 Bayern Munich: Bayern initially struggle with the tempo, then close out the tie

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