The narrative would be entirely different had Juve held on to their 1-0 advantage which, for the opening hour, they seemed more than capable of doing.
However, to hold out any team for 90 minutes in a low block requires resilience, mental fortitude and the utmost focus, especially against a crafty, well-coached side like Villarreal. Any erroneous sequence could prove costly, and that’s exactly what happened to Juventus on Tuesday night.
While the Yellow Submarine’s threat in the first leg wasn’t unrelenting, they counter-pressed well and retained possession coolly to ensure they could sustain pressure on the beleaguered visitors. The Bianconeri faded after the hour; they lost the vigour of their block and successful moments in transition were hard to come by.
Parejo’s equaliser summated Juve’s first leg demise. It was a catastrophic sequence from a defensive perspective, with several players culpable for allowing Parejo to slip in behind uncontested. First, Manuel Locatelli didn’t do enough to close down Etienne Capoue on the edge of the box. The Frenchman was given the freedom of Iberia to pick out his inch-perfect pass for Parejo, who entered Matthijs de Ligt’s zone after wandering in behind Adrien Rabiot.
The Spaniard was certainly Rabiot’s responsibility and that’s exactly why De Ligt exited his zone to close down Giovani Lo Celso, who moved towards Capoue. This perhaps wasn’t necessary from the Dutchman, who tried, in vain, to pass the responsibility on to one of his two centre-back partners. Rabiot completely lost his assignment, and Villarreal were level, just like that.
The goal was certainly avoidable, but that’s the risk Allegri takes when he sets his side up to defend for 90 minutes. They’re liable to defensive lapses, even superstars like De Ligt.