Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Brutal Juventus strike as Celtic run out of steam

Champions League last 16, first leg: Celtic 0-3 Juventus

Football can be ruthless. Celtic played with spirit and considerable effort yet were comprehensively beaten by Juventus, whose three away goals render the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie all but meaningless.

To an outsider it would have looked like daylight robbery, but the truth is that Juventus were merely professional and executed their game plan to perfection. 

A third minute goal from Alessandro Matri meant Celtic were always on the back foot and forced to chase the match, which they attempted commendably. Celtic responded to the early set-back in a positive manner by restricting Juventus's time on the ball with intense pressing and closing down. 

This proved to be a high risk tactic. For much of the game it looked as if Celtic's moment would eventually present itself, but Juventus are an incredibly fit side who rarely fail to end their matches in the ascendancy. 

When Celtic inevitably began to tire at the latter stages of the game, they were picked apart. Juventus had conserved their energy and unleashed it when fatigue was starting to set in for Celtic, who reaped no rewards for all their hard work.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon described the defeat as a "harsh reality" but said "some of the young players will learn a lesson from it". This lesson applies to all of Europe: beware of Juventus, innocuous at times, and deadly at others. 

On Monday evening West Brom pulled off the ultimate snatch and grab when they defeated Liverpool 2-0, despite only taking four shots all game in comparison to Liverpool's 23. Juve may have done the same to Celtic tonight, but make no mistake, it was fully intentional. 

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