Juventus 2-1 Lokomotiv Moscow: 3 talking points | UEFA Champions League 2019-20
Juventus played host to Lokomotiv Moscow at the Juventus Stadium in a Group D Champions League fixture. Given the difference in size and quality of players between both teams, the home side were expected to easily pick up all three points, but their Russian opponents made life very difficult for them.
Yuri Semin had set his team up to defend deep and catch their more illustrious hosts on the break and that was exactly what happened. Juventus struggled to break down a resilient Lokomotiv Moscow defense before going behind in the 30th minute when Aleksei Miranchuk was on hand to score after Wojciech Szczęsny parried into his path.
Maurizio Sarri sought to switch things up after the restart and introduced Gonzalo Higuain in Sami Khedira's stead. But Lokomotiv held firm and seemed destined for all three points until some late heroics by Paulo Dybala helped the Turin giants complete the comeback victory.
Here, we look at three talking points from the Champions League clash.
#3 Juventus take a big step towards qualification for the knockout rounds
Juventus' status as defending Serie A champions meant that they were placed in Pot A of the Champions League seeding, thereby avoiding some of the other 'big boys' like Barcelona, Manchester City and Liverpool.
However, some tricky opponents still lay within the other three pots and fans of the Bianconeri would have waited with bated breath on the day the draws for the group stage were made.
As it turned out, the perennial Italian champions were pitted against Atletico Madrid, Lokomotiv Moscow and Bayer Leverkusen in Group D. And while the group might not exactly be described as a walkover, things could have been much worse for Sarri's men.
Atletico Madrid and Juventus are by far the two best teams in the group, and it was widely expected that the pair would qualify for the next round.
Both teams clashed on matchday 1 and played out an entertaining 2-2- draw. With Juventus' most difficult fixture navigated, the attention turned to the remaining matches.
A comfortable 3-0 victory was recorded over Bayer Leverkusen on matchday 2 to take Juventus on to four points. And with Atletico having posted a narrow 1-0 victory over the same opponents earlier on matchday 3, the onus was on Juventus to get the job one against Lokomotiv.
Though it was far from convincing, the Italians ultimately did enough to get all three points. They thus moved to the top of the table with seven points from a possible nine.
This means both Atletico Madrid and Juventus hold a four-point advantage in the group and are finely poised to make it to the next round. Although there are still three matchdays to go, it looks highly likely that the two pre-tournament favorites would still be in the competition come next year.