It’s all to play for in the Champions League round of 16 tie between Juventus and Villarreal after the first leg in Spain finished all square.
While Juve are in a favourable position to qualify, recent history suggests that the Bianconeri will have to overcome a mental block in the second leg if they are to progress into the quarter-finals. Although, in 2020 and 2021, Juve were forced to overturn first leg deficits against inferior opposition in a bid to qualify.
While Tuesday night’s result was far from disastrous, many will rue the Bianconeri’s display after taking the lead in the opening minute. Their conservatism allowed Villarreal back into the contest, and there’s no doubting that Juventini will be fearing the worst when the second leg comes around in three weeks.
3 takeaways from Juventus’ 1-1 first leg draw with Villarreal
Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s 1-1 draw in the round of 16 first leg between Juventus and Villarreal.
Despite Alberto Moreno’s inexplicable dummy on the halfway line in the opening sequence of the contest, the immediate threat to Villarreal’s goal appeared minimal. Even when Danilo played a delightful pass that split Raul Albiol and Pau Torres, the recipient still had plenty of work to do if he was to test Geronimo Rulli between the sticks.
But that recipient was Dusan Vlahovic and after chesting down Danilo’s pass with aplomb, he caught the entirety of the Estadio de la Cerámica out with a pin-point weak-footed finish that nestled in the bottom corner. Rulli barely had a chance to get himself set.
Tuesday’s first leg was just 32 seconds old and Vlahovic had already handed Juventus the lead. In doing so, he became the fastest-scoring debutant in Champions League history and the second-youngest Juve debutant to score in the competition, behind only Alessandro Del Piero.
Moments like that are exactly why the Bianconeri forked out the big bucks the bring the 22-year-old to Turin as soon as they could. If they’re to progress deep into this competition, his efficiency in front of goal will be a major factor.
It’s such a shame we barely saw him after his opening goal, however…