Champions League: Juventus scrape through with risk-free draw
Juventus did the bare minimum as they scraped into the Champions League knockout stage on Tuesday with a 0-0 draw at home to Atletico Madrid, a result which also suited the Spaniards who topped the group.
Turin: Juventus did the bare minimum as they scraped into the Champions League knockout stage on Tuesday with a 0-0 draw at home to Atletico Madrid, a result which also suited the Spaniards who topped the group.
The first half was reasonably intense, with sporadic chances at either end, but the last half hour was a non-event with both teams clearly happy with what they had got.
"It`s never to easy to play against Atletico, they defend very well and it`s never simple to find a way through," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, whose side had needed a point to make sure of a second round place, told Sky Sport Italia.
"Given the situation, we didn`t want to take any risks," said the phlegmatic coach who succeeded where predecessor Antonio Conte had failed last season by getting past the group stage.
"In the second half we tried to win, but at the same time we did not want to risk losing. We didn`t want to spoil a qualification I thought was thoroughly deserved as we did not deserve to lose against Olympiacos."
Juventus, who lost two of their first three games in Group A, finished with 10 points, one ahead of Olympiakos who beat Malmo 4-2. Had they lost, Juve would have finished below the Greeks on the head-to-head record.
Spanish champions Atletico, already qualified, won the group with 13 points.
"We were in a complicated situation after the first three games and I think we`ve done very well to get back on our feet," said goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. "It doesn`t matter if you finish first or second."
The Serie A champions had most of the possession but were short on ideas for breaking down a typically resolute Atletico defence and it was the Spanish champions who looked more dangerous when they ventured forward.
Juventus had an excellent chance in the opening minutes when they won a free kick on the edge of the area, a perfect position for specialist Andrea Pirlo but the bearded playmaker sent a strangely lame effort into the wall.
Buffon made a superb early stop to deny Koke, then had to tip a Jose Maria Gimenez header over the crossbar before denying Raul Garcia twice in quick succession before halftime.
Juve had another escape early in the second half when Gabi`s inswinging corner curled onto the near post but the game petered out after that.
Despite enjoying 68 percent of possession, the hosts were clearly in no hurry, their buildups were laboured and their attacking threat was restricted to crosses into the area and long-range shots.
It was a relief for everyone when the final whistle went after less than two minutes of injury time.