Nevertheless, Juve’s second half wasn’t defined by their efficiency in possession. Instead, it was their dogged resolve and compact structure that got them over the line. It was vintage Juventus.
The grinta that defined their yesteryear brilliance once again manifested in a monumental defensive effort. De Ligt tamed an out of sorts Havertz, Bonucci produced one of the best one-v-one performances of his Juventus career against Lukaku (who is yet to score against the Bianconeri from open play), while the midfield trio flung themselves about as if their lives depended on Wednesday’s result. It’s only Matchday 2!
Locatelli, Rabiot and Bentancur combined for 93 pressures, seven blocks, seven tackles, seven clearances and six interceptions. Locatelli alone recorded eight combined tackles and interceptions against the Blues.
Crucially, Allegri nailed his subs, too. Moise Kean, Weston McKennie and Dejan Kulusevski entered the fray to reignite the Bianconeri’s energy levels. Tuchel gambled with youth from the bench as Chelsea ended the contest with a group of players that very few would’ve predicted. Even Ross Barkley got a gig!
They desperately missed the savviness of Mason Mount, the combativeness of N’Golo Kante and the attacking thrust of Reece James.
Nevertheless, it was outcast Barkley who created the visitors’ biggest chance. He slid through Lukaku, who finally outdueled an upright Bonucci, turning the Italian before snatching at his shot and firing over. After Havertz headed over late on from a corner, that was that. Juventus had defended their turf with the utmost rigidity.
It was a proud night to be a Juventus supporter following three years of European humiliation. While this was a mere group stage encounter against a Chelsea side missing a couple of crucial cogs, Juve can take great pride and confidence from their display. It was easy to forget that they were without two of their protagonists in Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata.
What we saw on Wednesday night was a clear identity. There may be concerns over the sustainability of such an approach, but Juventus proved they can fulfil Allegri’s ideals against the very best.
Nights like Wednesday is why the club returned Massimiliano Allegri to the helm. Not many can outfox Thomas Tuchel, but the master pragmatist most certainly did.
The foundations are slowly being laid once more.