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Published on June 6th, 2017 | by Vieri Capretta


Harsh lessons learned for Juventus after Champions League lashing

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Too old, too inexperienced and too overrated – that was the criticism back home in Italy for a Juventus outfit that are becoming serial final failures

This time, it hurts more than any other gone before. 

It really did seem like Juventus were ready to lift the Champions League trophy and complete the Treble. So many people were wrong. In just 45 minutes, a lot of the factors that made Juve so confident and strong were simply blown away by their Spanish opposition.

There was just too much Real Madrid for the Bianconeri. A team that showed the same ease at dealing with pressure in the Champions League as the Bianconeri have in Serie A. There’s a final step to be made, and this is where the Vecchia Signora has to go from here.

The defence is clearly not as perfect as it seems. Obviously, the same men that stopped Barcelona can’t be bad all of a sudden. But more is needed, and younger players too, to grow with the older ones. Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli have been great, but in two Champions League finals they conceded, with Gianluigi Buffon, seven goals.

The Italian press has been hitting hard on this, as well as the issue of dealing with pressure that has crushed players like Buffon in the final. The Bianconeri captain seemed used to games like this, but having lost two finals before, the Champions League is his obsession.

Many of the Juve players were probably slightly overrated too. When it mattered most, Miralem Pjanic and especially Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala disappeared. Three ghosts. And because in the Italian press there was a lot of optimism over the possible win, the reaction was probably even harsher than deserved.

Dybala was decisive against Barcelona, Higuain scored the crucial goals for the Scudetto. But in the final they were clear absentees. Like students who seem perfect all year and then don’t turn up for their most important exam. At school you would fail the year. This is what it feels like for the Argentinians.

Higuain was known for getting finals wrong. It happened with Argentina more than once. Everybody thought that joining Juve he could make that final step. Instead, a team that had lost six Champions League finals out of eight, is now on seven out of nine. For a fee of 94 million euros, everybody expected more from Higuain than simply repeating the results of the five seasons before having him.

Dybala is a different matter. He is younger and will have time to show his worth. But after the brace against Barcelona he was brought up to the level of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi by the press. The final confirmed the opposite. The top players, like Ronaldo, really do make a difference when it matters most.

Juventus will hope Dybala can become this type of player as soon as possible, whilst wanting to add depth to the squad and youth at the back and in the middle. Midfielders like Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric will be the target for the Bianconeri. Players who know how to win certain games when it matters the most. And it mattered on Saturday night in Cardiff.

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About the Author


A freelance journalist and broadcaster focusing on European soccer and currently featuring on, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Marca in English and more.

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