Alves enjoys a second wind at Juventus
By Brian Homewood
TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - After an injury-interrupted start at Juventus, Dani Alves has rediscovered the form which helped him win 23 trophies over eight seasons with Barcelona and made him one of their most influential players.
The exuberant Brazilian is now enjoying a second wind at his new club and gave an inspired performance in Juventus's 2-1 win over AS Monaco on Tuesday which must have left Barcelona wondering why they let him go in the first place.
Having played a part in both goals in Juve's 2-0 win in the first leg a week ago, he again created the first goal and then scored the second with a thumping drive as the Serie A champions completed a 4-1 aggregate win in the semi-final.
It was a remarkable turnaround for a player who felt unwanted when Barcelona decided to release him as a free agent in June and then suffered a broken left fibula in November.
That could have ended his career, yet the 34-year-old has come back stronger than ever.
Alves, more usually fielded as a right-back, was brought in on the right side of the Juventus midfield in place of Juan Cuadrado, a position which allowed him to show all his attacking ability.
He quickly showed his intentions with a thumping but perfectly-timed tackle to stop Monaco's 18-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe from breaking down the left wing.
He followed that up by floating over an inviting cross which Mario Mandzukic converted at the second attempt to break the deadlock.
Having threaded an incisive ball through for Paulo Dybala to set up another opening, he capped his performance with an outstanding goal, meeting Danijel Subasic's punched clearance with a full-blooded 25-metre volley which caught the goalkeeper out of position.
Alves never felt loved by Barcelona where his flamboyant manner was often viewed as a lack of professionalism by the club's hierarchy.
"I like feeling loved and as they did not want me I left," he told ABC de Sevilla earlier this year.
He now has a chance to win a remarkable fourth Champions League title, probably against his former club's arch-rivals Real Madrid, who take a commanding lead into the second leg of their semi-final against city rivals Atletico on Wednesday.
"I don’t score very often, so I’m happy, but in a way I prefer the assist to a goal, so everyone goes home happy,” he said on Tuesday.
Alves celebrated by drawing a heart in the air which he said was for his girlfriend.
"She is always there. At this special moment, I like to remember the special people in my life and thank everyone who is with me every day. This moment is for them.
“This was an opportunity that life gave me, to my team mates and to this squad," he added.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis)