Dusan Vlahovic impressed for Juventus, but the Bianconeri were held to a 1-1 draw by Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
Juventus new boy Dusan Vlahovic took just 31 seconds to score on his UEFA Champions League debut as he continued his fine form for the Bianconeri following his January move from Fiorentina.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side could not have asked for a better start and certainly looked set to seize the initiative on the night. Puzzlingly, however, Juventus appeared content to protect their lead rather than take the game to Villarreal.
The tactic worked for 66 minutes before Dani Parejo drew the home side level. Villarreal dominated possession on the night and had several chances to make Juventus pay. Poor finishing was often the home side’s bane, and they may end up regretting it come the second leg.
2018 – Juventus have remained unbeaten in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 for the first time since February 2018, against Tottenham (2-2) – they had lost three such games since then. Step.#VillarrealJuventus
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) February 22, 2022
With the away goal rule scrapped, Juventus gained no advantage from their goal and will have it all to do at home in the return fixture. Unai Emery’s side have shown that they can compete with the Italian giants, and it should prove to be a keenly contested return leg in Turin in March. The Hard Tackle looks at how the Juventus players fared on the night.
Wojciech Szczesny: 5/10
It was a mixed bag for the Polish international who had good and bad moments. Szczesny did well to deny Arnaut Danjuma, but looked powerless to prevent Parejo from grabbing Villarreal’s equaliser.
The Brazilian started well and played the decisive pass that led to Vlahovic’s opener. He was defensively solid otherwise but did not offer too much going forward. He could have done more, but was overall one of the better performers for Juventus on the night.
Matthijs de Ligt: 7/10
The Dutch international is quickly establishing himself as Juventus’s leader at the back and put in yet another dominant performance on the night. He organised the rearguard well and was always at hand to close down the Villarreal players and make crucial interceptions. De Ligt is looking more and more like the player he was expected to develop into following his move to Turin.
Alex Sandro: 2/10
Alex Sandro stepped in as a makeshift centre-back but failed to impress. He struggled from the word go and was rightly taken off at half-time for Leandro Bonucci.
Juan Cuadrado: 4/10
The Colombian spent more time defending than getting forward to whip in crosses for Vlahovic. The 33-year-old ran up and down the flank all night and cannot be faulted for his industry.
Weston McKennie: 5/10
The American international was a bundle of energy, linking up well with Cuadrado and making several good runs into the box, only for his finishing to let him down. McKennie was taken off injured, and it remains to be seen how long he will be out for.
Bad news for Juventus and United States national team.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) February 22, 2022
Manuel Locatelli: 5/10
The Italian international did not set any pulses racing but was tidy on the night. He sat deep and held the fort while recycling the ball with intent. Juventus’s decision to take him off meant their dominance in the middle of the park was compromised.
Adrien Rabiot: 3/10
The French international continued to disappoint with his performance at the Estadio de la Ceramica. He ran all night without producing much and lost Parejo leading up to Villarreal’s equaliser. He can also consider himself lucky not to have been sent off for a silly challenge on Samu Chukwueze.
Mattia De Sciglio: 3/10
De Sciglio worked hard all night and was given a difficult time by Chukwueze. De Sciglio did improve as the game went on, before fading towards the end of the game. Most of his night was spent in defensive actions rather than contributing to the attack.
Dusan Vlahovic: 7/10
The Serb took a mere 31 seconds to make his mark in the Champions League. He was largely isolated up front and starved of service, and had little joy otherwise. A clinical player, his signing is a massive boost for a Juventus side lacking in imagination. Vlahovic almost made it 2-1 late on but had his effort well saved.
2 – Dušan Vlahović (22 years, 25 days) is the second youngest player to score on their Champions League debut for Juventus after Alessandro Del Piero (20 years 308 days). Arrival. pic.twitter.com/XieQ5Anqbc
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 22, 2022
Alvaro Morata: 4/10
The Spaniard spent most of his time tracking back to help his teammates and made little impact upfront. Villarreal had his number and had him shackled all night.
Leonardo Bonucci: 6/10
The veteran is still to regain full fitness but had to come off the bench following Sandro’s struggles at the heart of the Juventus defence. He did what was expected of him and provided de Ligt with a dependable partner.
Arthur Melo: 4/10
He came on in the second half as Juventus looked for someone who could keep the ball. Arthur achieved little and was not impactful on the pitch.
Denis Zakaria: N/A
The Swiss midfielder replaced McKennie, who limped off in the 81st minute. He had little to no impact on the game.
Luca Pellegrini: N/A
He replaced De Sciglio as Juventus sought to see out the game.