Gonzalo Higuain and Juventus can't maintain early momentum vs. Spurs
Juventus were supposed to boast an impenetrable defence, but conceded two goals Tuesday to Tottenham Hotspur to draw 2-2 in Turin in the Champions League round-of-16 first leg.
Starting the match in sensational fashion, Juventus came out with a clear desire to score and play football. Passing the ball fluidly and quickly, the home side were 2-0 up inside the first 10 minutes of the match. Having seemingly taken control, the Italian side then proceeded to drop back and defend, inviting Spurs to grow in confidence and control the midfield, pushing Juve deeper and deeper.
Dominating play and possession, the Premier League side found a goal, but Juve still had their chances, squandering a fine opportunity on the counter, while a second penalty was missed.
Juve got tighter in the second half and Spurs had less time on the ball, but a rare Gianluigi Buffon error ensured another goal for the away side, complicating matters for the Bianconeri, who need to do a lot better in the second leg if they want to keep hope alive to advance to a third final in four years.
The first 10 minutes, when Juve scored twice and looked offensively courageous and fluid in their movement and passing.
So many negatives, starting with how quickly Juve ceded control of the match once they went 2-0 up. They fell too deep, while the midfield was simply bullied by the opponent. Sami Khedira was woeful, and the presence of Blaise Matuidi was hugely missed.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Massimiliano Allegri chose the 4-2-3-1 formation hoping to secure offensive brilliance, and Juve were brilliant in the first 10 minutes. Sadly, they fell too deep and that's not Allegri's fault, but adjustments should have been made more quickly to ensure more control in the midfield. The London derby win on Saturday against Arsenal demonstrated how well Spurs can control that area of the pitch.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Gianluigi Buffon, 6 -- Two excellent interventions to stop Harry Kane meriting an extra point, but Buffon was hugely disappointing on Christian Eriksen's goal from the free kick. We expect so much more from the legend.
DF Mattia De Sciglio, 6 -- A little more composed than the rest. Tried to contain as much as possible and tried to deliver some good balls forward.
DF Mehdi Benatia, 5 -- Not one of his better games even if he was decisive in certain moments, making important interceptions and blocks, but his marking was poor on the night.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 5 -- Gave away the free kick from which Spurs scored and was largely error-prone. Rash, lacked composure and poor in looking for the advantage when he did have the ball.
DF Alex Sandro, 6 -- Closed down the opponent and got a little tighter in the second half, heeding Allegri's advice and producing good tackles. Still not the player he was last year and struggled to command the lane.
MF Sami Khedira, 5 -- For all his usual tactical intelligence, Khedira does not possess the physicality to cope in certain matches anymore, and he has recently struggled to deal with aggression and relentless running by the opponent. Anonymous on the night, failing to provide Miralem Pjanic with the support he needed in midfield.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 6 -- He provided the assist for Gonzalo Higuain's first goal, and Mario Mandzukic nearly scored from the corner he took, but Pjanic was not offered the support from his teammates to allow him to better control the game. When the opponent pushes and presses, Pjanic is one of the first to surrender to inaccuracy and panic.
FW Federico Bernardeschi, 7 -- One of the better players on the night. He won the penalty, tracked back to help the defence and did his best to create danger, trying to scare Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris with his shots. Must avoid conceding so many needless fouls.
FW Douglas Costa, 6 -- Sloppy in possession, gave the ball away and made several poor decisions in the first half, but then utilised his pace well to overcome his man and win the penalty that wasn't converted.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 6 -- Should have scored from his header but generous all over the pitch. Gave everything in defence, offering help all the time to ensure solidity. Tackling, clearing and winning his aerial duels. If only he could do better going forward.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 7 -- Mostly very good, scoring almost immediately and grabbing another from the penalty spot inside 10 minutes. Linked up play, brought in his teammates, but then missed his chance from the counter-attack and missed another penalty. He alone could have secured the victory but instead squandered his opportunities.
MF Rodrigo Bentancur, 6 -- Late and rash challenge on Ben Davies earned him a yellow card. Needs to make better decisions but he can be cunning, duping the opponent to deliver accuracy.
MF Stefano Sturaro, N/A -- His presence made no difference to the team.
DF Kwadwo Asamoah, N/A -- Barely had any time to make a difference.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.