Juventus hung on to a goalless draw against Atletico Madrid, as the Turin based club secured safe passage into the next round of the Champions League. Although Juventus attacked and challenged their opponents in the second half, it was an all Atletico Madrid show in the first forty five minutes. The Spanish outfit missed some glorious chances and were also denied a couple of clear goal oportunitites by Gigi Buffon, who looked in impeccable form. Juventus gathered troops and mounted an all out attack in the second half, testing Atletico’s goalkeeper Moya with a couple of good saves, that the keeper made to deny Juventus the lead. With the spoils of battle shared at half time, Juventus edge third placed Olympiacos by just one point, and guaranteed a place into the next round of the Champions League. Although Juventus did qualify, manager Max Allegri thinks that there is still room for improvement.
“We’ve still got a lot to improve on. There are a few clubs on a different level – Real Madrid, Bayern München, Barcelona and Chelsea – to the rest. We’ve played a good group stage. Our defeats away from home almost compromised our chances, but the lads lifted themselves and won here against Malmö and managed to get the result tonight.” said Allegri
“This was our first objective for the season – to get through to the last 16, and it wasn’t easy. We had three opponents who had won their domestic leagues and despite playing well in all of our games – we were unlucky in Madrid and in Athens – it all still came down to this last game.
If we had not gone through it would have been agonising. he added.
Meanwhile Carlos Tevez, understood that it was a battle of two contrasting halves and the Argentine believed that Juventus came back stronger and more confident in the second half.
“There were two different games tonight: one in the first half and another after the break. In the first half they filled every space on the pitch and created good chances; it was just impossible for us. In the second half we were the more dangerous side while they defended very deep. Now the real Champions League is set to start, and the most important thing is that Juve are there in the knockout stage after failing to do so last season.” said Tevez.
Skipper Gigi Buffon, who saved Juventus blushes in the first half denying Atletico the lead, hailed the importance of this result.
“After the first three games we were in a difficult position in the group, but we reacted well and arrived at the last game needing only a point to reach the knockout stage. In my opinion that was undeserved: we deserved to qualify with one or two games in hand.”
“There is no great difference between first and second place [in the group stage]. Sooner or later you must play against big teams, and if you are strong enough you will beat them anyway.” said Buffon.
Juventus qualify for Champions League’s next round, but the Old Lady would be weary of the horrors that the next round possess, in terms of ‘big’ teams.