Juventus win but Trabzonspor deserved more

Posted by Mina Rzouki

It was a familiar European tale for the Italian giants: Lapses in concentration, relaxed attitudes and imprecision with their passing. Juventus may have managed a 2-0 win over Trabzonspor, but the gods were smiling down on them, giving them that little bit of luck needed to keep the opponent at bay.

- Report: Juventus 2-0 Trabzonspor

In the first half, it was evident the Turks were not about to let themselves be intimidated by the atmosphere at Juventus Stadium. Determined and eager, they set the tempo high, heavily pressed their opponents and worked on doubling up on the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tevez to minimise their impact on the game. Unfortunately, their passing game needed to be better and thus they allowed the Bianconeri the opportunity to steal the ball and set their own game in motion.

While Hami Mandirali taught his men to limit the space, especially centrally to frustrate Juve's attackers, they left plenty of room for Mauricio Isla to work with on the right. Consistently providing the danger, Juventus squandered several chances early on. However, a lucky ricochet allowed new arrival Pablo Osvaldo the opportunity to open his goalscoring account with his new team and the striker dispatched the goal with absolute composure. A great finish saw the home side go 1-0 up in the first 15 minutes of the game.

Trabzonspor did not allow themselves to lose hope and if anything, they cranked up the pressure and proved more effective in robbing Juve of possession to play interesting passages of play, but it was all in vain as they lacked the cutting edge to create any serious danger.

The second half proved disappointing for the home side as they desperately struggled to control the game in the way they know how. Brilliant all season long domestically, when it comes to actually displaying their quality on a European stage, it seems Juventus suffer and are shackled by mediocrity.

Spaces were opening up, gaps were there to be exploited and the game was end-to-end. What the Bianconeri needed was to regain composure, remain concentrated and grab the game by the neck and impose the superiority. They needed to dictate. Instead they looked lazy and conceded their control and several opportunities to the away side who were desperately chasing an away goal.

By the 66th minute, Antonio Conte had clearly decided that his side needed another goal and brought on Fernando Llorente, a man more familiar with the team's patterns of play, and Arturo Vidal, the warrior. Even with the substitutes, the Italians struggled to keep the ball long enough to carve out consistent opportunities while the defence was provoking palpitations of the heart.

Trabzonspor attacked with confidence but they lacked that final ball. Exploiting the spaces in midfield, substitute Paulo Henrique was causing problems for the Juve defence and did well to deliver a cross from the left. The cut-back resulted in a goal; or did it? Officials ruled it out, claiming the ball crossed the by-line. Replays suggest that perhaps the whole ball did not cross the line, but the Italians were warned. Optimum levels of concentration were required from a squad that were woefully negligent of their defensive duties on the night.

Overloading the attack, going so far as to introduce another forward, Sebastian Giovinco, Juventus finally managed to double their score-line in the dying minutes of the game. Tevez, guilty of wasting several opportunities in the first half, worked hard to win back possession, dribble and cut back for Paul Pogba to score Juve's second. Turkish hearts broke.

While you accept certain players like Angelo Ogbonna and Leonardo Bonucci may struggle under heavy pressure, when the likes of Pirlo are misplacing passes and Vidal are surrendering possession in dangerous areas, one has to worry. When it comes to domestic matches, Juventus thrill and amaze with their confidence, dogged determination and ability to overwhelm. However, when it comes to European games, it seems they allow complacency to creep in, especially when it seems they don't find the opponent to be particularly strong.

Perhaps the only times we saw Juve perform well in the Champions League this season was when they faced Real Madrid, while they disappointed in the remaining games against what they perceived to be "lesser" opponents.

Trabzonspor were unlucky not to manage the away goal on Thursday night, especially in light of Juve's shaky defence. Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini were gravely missed on the night when both leadership qualities and a warrior like attitude were missing at the back.

A 2-0 victory means they did just enough ahead of the second leg in Turkey, but if Juve hope to make an impact in Europe, they will need to improve drastically.

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