Allegri's tactics spark Juve comeback

Allegri's tactics spark Juve comeback
From ESPN - March 7, 2018

LONDON -- Three quick thoughts from Juventus' 2-1 comeback win over Tottenham at Wembley on Wednesday that sees the Italian champions move on to the Champions League quarterfinals courtesy a 4-3 aggregate victory.

1. Juventus win fine tie over Spurs

It presumably wo not be of any consolation to Tottenham that they contributed to one of the finest Champions League ties we will see this season. Tell any of them "Well done, you entertained us," and you will probably get quite a sharp response.

Entertain us they did, but it's Juventus who will progress. Rapid goals from Gonzalo Higuain and the brilliant Paulo Dybala gave the Italians a 2-1 win on the night, 4-3 on aggregate, after Son Heung-Min had put Spurs ahead in the first half.

The tension inside Wembley was remarkable from the opening exchanges right through to the last seconds of added time. At the end, the visitors celebrated as if they had won the trophy -- and rightly so.

The game started at a fearsome pace. Three penalties could easily have been awarded inside the first 20 minutes: two for Tottenham, which were touch and go (although a handball from Giorgio Chiellini looked reasonably clear), but the Juventus players were incandescent when Jan Vertonghen tripped the lightning-quick Douglas Costa, and with good reason. It was extraordinary that the additional official, standing behind the goal line and no more than 10 yards away with nothing in his sightline, did not spot the foul.

Harry Kane had the best chance of the opening exchanges, flexing Chiellini aside, rounding Gianluigi Buffon but scuppered by the narrow angle. Beyond that it was a slightly uncoordinated and frantic match, neither side really exerting much control: which is not to say it was not entertaining, for it was the sort of frantic football that is great fun to watch.

Spurs took the lead a few minutes before half-time. Son had looked uncertain for most of the game, his touch dicey and had just dragged a shot wide when through on goal. But his off-colour performance actually benefitted him: Dele Alli was tackled when through, Kieran Trippier squared across the six-yard box and Son scuffed a finish from right foot and off his left ankle, looping and bobbling into the net.

Spurs had the better of the initial stages after the break too but, soon after making two substitutions, Juve equalised with a rare attack midway through the second half. Sami Khedira nodded on a cross from the right and Higuain, markers nowhere to be seen, expertly hooked it into the corner.

And two minutes later they went ahead in the tie. Higuain slipped a neat ball through to Dybala, who was played onside by Ben Davies, and the Argentinian forward emphatically swept home. The Italian corner of Wembley bounced with delight.

Tottenham pressed and pressed for an equaliser. Juventus lined at least seven men across the edge of their area at all times. Chiellini and friends defended with frenzied commitment, throwing themselves in front of shots like a presidential bodyguard. Kane hit the post with a looping header that inched along the line, but failed to cross it, and Juve held on.

3. Allegri's tactical shift the difference

Massimiliano Allegri is not often discussed among the lofty echelons of Europe's best coaches, despite his creaking trophy cabinet. His detractors will say that he could hardly fail to win Serie A with this Juventus, while pointing to a failure to win the Champions League as evidence that he is not all that.

Yet it was a tactical switch by him that completely changed the course of the game and ultimately put Juventus through to the quarterfinals.


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