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Champions League 2018-19: 4 reasons why Juventus lost to Atletico Madrid 

Ronaldo was on the losing side against Atletico Madrid
Ronaldo was on the losing side against Atletico Madrid

The first legs of the 2018/2019 UCL round of 16 fixtures are over, with some teams having one leg in the quarterfinals, leaving their opponents with a mountain to climb in the second leg.

Some other ties are firmly balanced, with the return fixtures still being anybody's game to take.

One of the fixtures that was highly anticipated when the draws were made, was that of Atletico Madrid and Juventus, owing to both teams' giant stature in the game and similarity in style of play between both sides.

There were also a lot of other underlying factors such as the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, whose extraterrestrial performances in the UCL over the years played a crucial role in the Bianconerri breaking the bank to sign him.

The fixture was seen as a balanced one between two sides of equal strength, but the weighing scale would have tipped the odds in favor of Juventus slightly owing to the presence of the iconic Portuguese.

However, in a plot twist, Juventus fell to a 2-0 defeat despite VAR overruling a Morata goal in rather controversial circumstances, leaving the Turin giants with all to do in the second leg. In this piece, we shall be taking a look at four factors which contributed to Juventus losing against Atletico Madrid.

#4 Midfield ineffectiveness

Dybala was a relative spectator during the match
Dybala was a relative spectator during the match

Juventus started the match with a midfield comprised of Rodrigo Bentancur, Blaise Matuidi, Miralem Pjanic, and Paulo Dybala, with the Argentine being the focal point of the midfield charged with linking up play with their attack.

On his day, the 25-year-old is one of the most creative players in the world, possessing the ability to unlock any defense with his pinpoint passing and wonderful technique.

However, on the day, he was uncharacteristically off-color, being nothing more than a bystander as the match passed him by.

Elsewhere in the middle, Pjanic also failed to gain a foothold on the match, as Juventus had a lot of possession, but could not translate that into clear cut chances, leaving Ronaldo to fend for himself alone.

By contrast, Koke, Rodri, Saul Niguez, and Thomas Partey were all over the Juventus midfield, overrunning them in the middle of the park and linking up well with their forwards to create chances at goal for their team.

The midfield is an important component of any team, and any team's midfielders who fail to execute their duties effectively could pay the price, as Juventus found out at the Wanda Metropolitano.

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#3 Atletico's defensive resistance

Gimenez and Godin successfully shackled Ronaldo
Gimenez and Godin successfully shackled Ronaldo

Atleti have made a name for themselves as having one of the most compact defenses in all of Europe, as all their successes in recent years have been built on having an almost impenetrable backline.

This season, they have continued to impress defensively and currently have one of the tightest backlines in Europe this term.

Against Juventus, they brought their defensive A-game to the fore, successfully thwarting the few chances their visitors managed to carve out, with Diego Godin and crime partner Jose Maria Gimenez putting their bodies on the line and leaving it all on the field.

They successfully shackled Ronaldo and Manzukic in the Juve attack, making sure they did not get a sniff of Oblak's goal and in a remarkable twist of events, the center-backs got the two goals of the match which was a just reward for their sublime performances over the course of the 90 minutes.

#2 The Wanda atmosphere

The atmosphere at the Wanda Metropolitano was electric
The atmosphere at the Wanda Metropolitano was electric

For 51 years, Atletico Madrid called the Vicente Calderon home, with the stadium having a special place in the club's history owing to the numerous memories created there in over half a century.

The completion of a modern state of the art stadium in 2017 by a Chinese conglomerate meant that Atleti had to say goodbye to the Calderon, calling the Wanda Metropolitano their new home ahead of the 2017/2018 season.

The stadium is indeed an architectural masterpiece, possessing modern world-class facilities and would be the venue for this year's Champions League final.

As with any stadium change, many were pessimistic that the move would be seamless, as it was believed that it would take some time for the fans to get used to their new home and the atmosphere at their former ancestral stadium would not be translated to the new one.

However, Atletico have one of the most passionate fans in the world, and it did not take them time to settle into the Wanda, imposing their will on visiting teams effectively making those in the stands the proverbial 12th man on the field of play.

Against Juventus, the Atleti fans were in full voice, giving the Wanda a rocking atmosphere and being in Ronaldo's face throughout the match, with Diego Simeone urging them on at every point.

The importance of a vibrant atmosphere at any home match can never be overemphasized and against Juventus, it was in full force which gave Atleti the impetus and extra drive to go all the way in achieving victory.

#1 Allegri's indecisiveness

Max Allegri was slow to react to the game
Max Allegri was slow to react to the game

Massimiliano Allegri has been one of the most successful managers over the last few years, winning the double of Serie A and Coppa Italia consecutively for the last four seasons, while also guiding Juventus to the latter stages of the Champions League.

However, for all of his domestic dominance, there are still many who believe he has to taste success on the continent for him to truly prove his worth, as the Juve haven't triumphed in Europe's premier club competition for over two decades.

Coming up against Diego Simeone gave the 51-year-old a chance to pit his wits against one of the best coaches in the world, however, he came up painfully short.

Whereas his Argentine counterpart was quick to react to the game, making quick changes by replacing the misfiring Diego Costa with Alvaro Morata, while also taking off Thomas and Koka for Lemar and Correa respectively. Meanwhile, Allegri was much slower to enforce changes, until it was almost too late.

Simeone threw all three of his cards before the 67th minute and barely 5 minutes later, they got the ball in the back of the net which was ruled out for a controversial offside call, but they were duly rewarded when with 12 minutes left, Jose Maria Gimenez put them deservedly ahead.

By contrast, Allegri was much slower to effect the desired changes, leaving Paulo Dybala on until the 80th minute, when it was clear from the onset that this was not going to be the Juve number 10's night, while he also left it too late to haul off other underperforming players like Blaise Matuidi and Miralem Pjanic.

Tight fixtures like these are usually settled by tactical switches from the bench and whereas Simeone realized this on time, Allegri was much slower to do so which cost his team and left Juve with a big mountain to climb come March 12.

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Edited by Hassan Shafiq
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