Juve's quality decisive against Celtic's effort

Posted by Mina Rzouki

With Juventus described as 'a team that practice the black arts' by a Scottish Sun columnist, this game possessed all the pre-match intensity one would hope for in a Champions League game.

Celtic were sure to make an impact. Juventus had been studying their opponents for days. It was aggressive, it was intense and it was fast. In the end, it was an Italian win with Juventus winning 3-0 in Glasgow Tuesday.

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Celtic played at a frantic pace in the first half. They boasted the lion's share of possession, pushed their full-backs high up the pitch and continuously searched for a goal. Unlucky to have conceded so early on due to a lapse in concentration, their reaction was to be admired.

The Scots' aim was to not allow the Old Lady to play her game. They played with a high tempo in hopes of provoking individual errors and succeeded. Juventus misplaced far too many passes and were dogged by imprecision. Pressing high up the pitch, Celtic hoped to win the ball back in dangerous possessions in order to have a quicker route to goal.

However, Juventus defended valiantly and in numbers to limit the home side to shots from outside the box. Aware of Celtic's ability to convert from set pieces, the Bianconeri were aggressive and almost violent when it came to securing the area. Stephan Lichtsteiner turned into the world's most hated man as he attempted to act as the buffer between Gary Hooper and Gianluigi Buffon.

The Swiss was quickly referred to as a "typical [insert rude adjective] Italian defender". Acceptable since he does play in Italy. If that is the argument, then Luis Suarez must be a typical English diver.

The Italian defence proved impenetrable on the night and while the centre-backs impressed, the midfielders deserve plenty of praise. Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal's consistent pressing high up the pitch as well as their ability to drag defenders away eased the pressure on the back line. Vidal's tackling combined with Marchisio’s positioning aided the defence tremendously.

Despite the intensity and determination to find the equaliser, Celtic simply could not find the right pass in the box to complete their attacking passages. Always lacking the final perfect move, they continued in vain to penetrate the solid Juve back-line.

Juventus struggled initially to cope with the onslaught but eventually the Scots tired in the second half and as such, conceded control. The Bianconeri’s passing game improved, they looked lethal from counter-attacks and they grew more confident in their ability to score additional goals.

For a side renowned for their ability to squander the easiest of chances, Juventus boasted pure efficiency. The Italians exploited each Celtic mistake, effectively resulting in three away goals. Juve had attempted 33 shots against Nordsjaelland in the group stage match, yet only managed one goal in Denmark. Tuesday, Juventus only produced four shots on target and yet walked away with three goals.

An exhibition of quality, it was difficult to pick out Juve’s best players of the night. Several of Antonio Conte’s men impressed at Celtic Park but perhaps none more so than Federico Peluso. The defender who only arrived in January has been heavily criticised for his poor defensive performances in the Bianconeri colours thus far. This blog in particular has been far from kind to the former Atalanta defender. However, against Celtic, he proved he's up for the challenge and indeed worthy of the jersey he’s been handed.

He defended well in that he cleared effectively, tackled when necessary and proved precise with his passing. A solid performance - he even grabbed an assist as well as producing several key passes that led to great chances in front of goal.

Alessandro Matri, who celebrated his 300th professional career appearance, was another who ought to be singled out for praise. Never thought to be an intelligent player, his appreciation for space on the night was a sight to behold. His positioning was perfect, his passing improved and his lay-offs were exciting. He scored a wonderful early goal to ease Italian nerves while his assist for the second proved masterful. Should he continue playing in this manner, Juventus may have just solved their problems up front.

Having noted the excellent performances of one defender and one attacker, we have to recognise the brilliance of one midfielder – Marchisio. His finish on the second goal may have been sublime, but it was his constant running and ability to seem omnipresent that really made the difference for the Old Lady.

Defensively, he was on hand to provide the cover and to press for the goal. Offensively, he made the right runs and uncovered the right spaces to prove lethal. When it comes to the big games, the midfielder can always be depended on.

Celtic’s strong effort ought to have seen them grab at least a goal but Juve's sophistication deserved all three points on the night.

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