Bayern hurt Juve on Buffon off night
MUNICH, April 3 — Bayern Munich tore Juventus apart on a rare off night for Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon but had to settle for a 2-0 win after missing a hatful of chances in yesterday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Italy World Cup winners Pirlo and Buffon were both at fault as David Alaba put hosts Bayern ahead inside 30 seconds, a goal which set the tone of the first half as the Bavarians, who hit nine past Hamburg SV on Saturday, exposed the Juve defence.
Goalkeeper Buffon should also have done better with Luiz Gustavo’s shot in the run-up to Thomas Mueller’s second goal just after the hour in the meeting of the German and Italian league leaders.
Twice European champions and five-times runners-up Juventus were back in the quarter-finals after a seven-year absence and coach Antonio Conte said beforehand it was a chance to see how much they lagged behind the likes of Bayern.
The answer appeared to be an awful lot as the runaway Bundesliga leaders ripped into a ragged, disorientated Juve in a match so one-sided it at times resembled their 7-0 win over FC Basel last season.
However, Conte was not writing his side off despite a comprehensive defeat which cost them their three-year, 18-match unbeaten run in European competition.
“We still have the second leg and in football, you play until the end before drawing conclusions,” he told a news conference. “I’ll tell you after the second leg.
“It’s a tough result. Bayern proved they are a really strong team, one of the favourites,” he added.
Juventus had won their last five games in the competition without conceding a goal but that record quickly fell.
Midfielder Pirlo’s attempted pass out of defence went straight to Bastian Schweinsteiger who found Alaba and the Austrian’s slight deflected shot from distance caught Buffon off his guard and out of position.
Bayern never let Juventus settle in midfield, forcing them to repeatedly lose possession with the usually unflappable Pirlo one of the main culprits.
Another poor Pirlo pass nearly led to a second goal as he sold Andrea Barzagli short, setting up a chance for Franck Ribery whose effort was turned away by Buffon.
Ribery was outstanding for Bayern, continually tormenting the Juventus right flank, while Arjen Robben caused trouble on the other side after replacing the injured Toni Kroos in the 16th minute.
It was arguably the first time any team have dominated Juventus to such an extent since Conte took over as coach at the start of last season, leading them to the Serie A title unbeaten at the first attempt.
Robben had a shot blocked at close range by Buffon, side-footed wide from close range with another chance while Juventus were also let off when crosses by Ribery and Alaba flashed across the face of their area without finding a finishing touch.
It was all part of the plan according to Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes.
“We prepared really well and that was the key,” he said.
“Our pressing, our dribbling on the flanks, the way we closed them down...Against a team like Juventus, the small details play a big role and that was the case today. That is why I studied them so closely.”
Alaba nearly caught Buffon off-guard with another long-range shot in the second half and Juve’s resistance was broken again in the 63rd minute.
Buffon parried Luiz Gustavo’s long-range shot to Mandzukic who rolled it for Mueller to tap into an empty net. Once again, it seemed the goalkeeper should have done better.
Bayern were agonisingly close to a third when Mueller fired a shot over the crossbar from close range, a miss that allowed Juve to cling to the hope of turning the tie around in Turin next Wednesday. — Reuters