At a glance, Juventus’s preparations for a season-defining showdown with Atlético Madrid appear almost ideal. After losing 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano, Massimiliano Allegri tweeted that his team had 20 days to “GET READY for a [return leg] TO LIVE and TO WIN”. Since then, the Bianconeri have won three games out of three.
They have triumphed away to Napoli, and since extended their lead atop Serie A to 18 points. On Friday, Juventus beat Udinese 4-1. Repeat that scoreline on Tuesday and they will go through to the quarter-finals.
And yet, none of it has felt as impressive as it looks. That victory in Naples was coloured by a 25th-minute red card for their opponents’ goalkeeper, Alex Meret. Despite having an extra man for almost half the match (before Miralem Pjanic was also sent off), Juventus were largely outplayed.
The side that overran Udinese, meanwhile, will bear scant resemblance to the one that faces Atlético. Cristiano Ronaldo was rested, as were Giorgio Chiellini and Mario Mandzukic. Miralem Pjanic and João Cancelo were suspended. Leonardo Bonucci and Paulo Dybala came off the bench. Read more