Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Juventus: 3 reasons why the Bianconeri won the game | UEFA Champions League 2019-20
Bayer Leverkusen hosted Juventus at the BayArena and it turned out to be an interesting clash as the German side were knocked out of the Champions League after a 2-0 loss.
Juventus went into the game already assured of their place in the knockout stages. Making six changes in total, Maurizio Sarri chose to rest several players who had started against Lazio during their last Serie A game.
Bayer needed to win the game and see Atletico Madrid fail to get all three points against Lokomotiv Moscow inorder to proceed into the Round of 16. Peter Bosz made only three changes to the side that beat Schalke during the weekend.
Sadly for Leverkusen, Atletico never looked like losing to a disgruntled Lokomotiv Moscow side. While Diego Simeone and his lads take their place behind Juventus in the group, Bayer have to settle for making their name in the Europa League.
The game started with both teams trying to play out from the back, but defensive errors and high pressure from attackers brought several opportunities that yielded nothing. Both sides fought hard to create chances on either side of the pitch, but it was to no avail until late in the game when Cristiano Ronaldo scored the opener.
While they ended up on the losing side, Leverkusen would be proud of their strong defensive efforts for majority of the game. Aside from a huge chance for Ronaldo early on in the game, the German side managed to keep both Juventini strikers at bay and forced them to create changes from further out. Lukas Hradecky didn't have to make a single save throughout the first half.
The attacking quality of the hosts was, however, questionable. Apart from a Moussa Diaby shot that bounced off the woodwork, Leverkusen made very few moves that threatened Gianluigi Buffon and Juventus.
By half-time, the deadlock wasn't broken, but Juventus had other plans in mind.
Minutes into the second half, the Old Lady scored their first goal, but it was overruled. Ronaldo received the ball from a Federico Bernardeschi through-pass a little too late, and his sumptuous finish was cancelled.
With over an hour of the game spent without goals, Sarri opted to replace Bernardeschi with Paulo Dybala to give the Bianconeri a much-needed attacking edge. This decision proved to be game-changing as Dybala had a hand in Juventus' opening goal. Dashing down the left wing to chase a well-threaded through-pass, the 26-year-old latched onto the ball and squared it to Ronaldo whose simple tap-in was enough to change the scoreboard.
That goal was perhaps Leverkusen's breaking point. Unable to react positively to their impending loss, Juventus started to break through their crumbling defensive wall. Even when Bayer held onto possession, they seemed to run out of attacking ideas, and all Juve had to do was wait for another opening to pounce.
That eventually came during injury time as Dybala and Higuain connected superbly with a quick one-two pass that dismantled the worn-out defence. Higuain didn't give Hradecky any chance as he thundered a low shot into the right side of the goal to increase Juventus' lead.
By this point, it was quite clear that Bayer had no chance of progressing in the Champions League, and the game ended with Juventus picking up 16 points from their six group games.
Without further ado, let's look at three reasons why Juventus won the game.
#3 Bayer lost confidence late in the game
While their chances of getting into the Round of 16 were already dim, the first half showed a resilient Bayer Leverkusen side that was determined to hold Juventus down. They harried the high Juventini defensive line, forced the midfield to make mistakes and blocked the strikers from receiving the ball.
All this, however, was to change with only 15 minutes to spare. A fast break saw Juventus open the scoring, and that was all it would take. Bayer suddenly seemed out of options, unable to push for an equalizer and bow out with a strong performance. The strong defence that had carried them for most part of the game suddenly looked weak and an already content Juventus found the net a second time.