In a dramatic night in Turin, Juventus rocked Atlético Madrid 3-0 in the Champions League.
The result saw them overturn their 2-0 first leg deficit and qualify for the quarter-finals. Who were the winners and losers?
Winner: Cristiano Ronaldo
Atlético Madrid have conceded three goals away from home in a Champions League knockout match on just two occasions. That’s six goals. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored all six. His hat-trick today was his 8th in the competition, no one has more in its entire history. The hat-trick also gave left him on 25 goals in 33 games against Atleti and 124 in 160 for the Champions League. Personal issues continue to follow him around, but so does producing on the pitch.
Juventus have overturned a 2-0 deficit in a #UCL knock-out game for the first time in their history.
Cristiano Ronaldo 3-2 Atletico Madrid. ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/Ic1H7uYCsk
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 12, 2019
Two towering headers and one penalty was nearly a classic Cristiano hat-trick, but this was surely a classic Cristiano night. The kind of display Juventus signed him to produce. He only had one goal in the competition before Atleti. Now he has 4. He didn’t dominate the ball, he never needs to. His three goals came from three touches; no fuss, no complications, no care given to the wishes of Atleti’s defenders – just pure single-minded, ruthless, brutal efficiency.
Poor ol’ Juanfran. Something bad happens to him when he comes up against Cristiano Ronaldo. He may have thought that with Real Madrid’s elimination last week, he was finally clear at the grand old age of 34 to push forward and win the Champions League.
He had even played and bested Cristiano in the first leg, so surely he had no problems left right? Well, Filipe Luis and Lucas Hernandez’s injuries forced him to play left-back tonight in Turin. That would have been his first warning sign. The second would have been the ferocious way Juve started.
But hey, he made it to 20 minutes and Atleti hadn’t conceded! And Juve were attacking Santiago Arias on the other flank! So everything was cool, right? Wrong. Federico Bernadeschi sent in a delightful cross and Juanfran suddenly realised he was 1v1 against Cristiano at the back-post. The outcome was as spectacular was it was inevitable, Juanfran getting monstered by Cristiano as the Portuguese thundered Juve into a lead. And then in the last 10 minutes when he had moved to right-back, he was nowhere to be found when Juve raided into his defensive area and won a penalty, the clinching penalty that knocked them out.
Winner: Leonardo Spinazzola
Juve have a ridiculous hold over the Italian transfer market, and as a result they often pick up random promising youngster and stash them, Chelsea-like, out on loan. Leonardo Spinazzola signed for Juve when he was 18 and by the time he was 20, he started going out on loan.
Six years and eight loans later, he finally joined Juve’s squad in summer 2018, only for injury to rule him out of the whole first half of the season. He finally made his Juve debut in January 2019, and then tonight, he made his Champions League debut.
That alone would make him a winner, but he actually played magnificently. He was Juve’s best player on the night, constantly terrorising the Atleti defence with some dazzling dribbling and creative crossing. He never, ever, looked like someone making their Champions League debut. He was so relentless the only thing that could stop him was his own manager taking him off just after an hour!
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.
Loser: Alvaro Morata
Whilst Atlético’s attitude was wrong pretty much all night, what was undeniable is that whenever they tried to get the ball out of defence and hold it forward in attack, whenever they tried to profit off 50/50’s and second balls, they were thoroughly incapable of doing so. And not because of any tactics, either, but because Alvaro Morata battling with Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci looked like when a lion cub playfights with its parents and they adorably bat the kid around. Morata offered nothing and wasted Atleti’s only good chance of the game at the end of the first-half. It was a whelp of a display from a whelp of a striker.
Winner: Federico Bernadeschi
Much as Cristiano will understandably draw the plaudits, the most consistent performer on the night for Juve was actually Federico Bernadeschi. Many eyebrows would have been raised when the Italian started ahead of Paulo Dybala, but he more than justified his selection with a daring, dynamic display. He was the heart of their performance and comeback.
First it was his excellent, reality-bending cross that found Cristiano Ronaldo at the back-post for the Portuguese to open the scoring. Then with just a handful of minutes left he twisted Angel Correa inside out on the halfway line and then blitzed his way into Juve’s box. A touch on his back was all he needed and down he went. Penalty given, Juve win, and Bernadeschi’s reputation is enhanced to a massive degree.
Loser: Diego Simeone
In hindsight, Diego Simeone’s “balls” celebration in the first leg – for which UEFA fined him – perfectly summed him up. Because in all honesty it’s a situation that can be read in two ways; either it’s a supremely macho celebration or it’s cringeworthy performative masculinity.
And that’s exactly how Simeone can be read as a coach and thus, how Atleti can be read as a team. When they are up for it, they are a relentless outfit. A tigerish team who no one can handle. They blew Juve away in the first leg (and should have scored more than two times) and came into this game off the back of five consecutive clean sheets. They can be supremely macho and magnificent.
Or they can be cringeworthy. Fake tough guys performing masculinity to hide how deeply, deeply afraid they are. Atleti began the night against Juve defending like they only had to hold on for five minutes. This set a tone that they were never able to shake off and they capitulated embarrassingly. They didn’t attack, they just about defended (but never in an organised way) and never, ever, looked like they would manage to stop Juve from rolling over them and charging headlong into the quarter-finals.
A pathetic, limp display from Atlético Madrid and yet another failure for Diego Simeone in the Champions League. He never just loses, he always seems to go out in a humiliating fashion. Maybe it’s time he moved on?