CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Copenhagen 1-1 Juventus

ChampionsLeague

GROUP B – Tuesday 17th September 2013

FC COPENHAGEN 1-1 JUVENTUS

Denmark Soccer Champions League

After winning two Serie A titles on the bounce, Juventus have opted to take their ambitions that one step further and challenge on the European stage. To do so, Fernando Llorente, Carlos Tévez and Angelo Ogbonna arrived for the grand sum of approximately €21m, up front. The Bianconeri have started their season strongly, too, as Antonio Conte’s side are yet to lose in Serie A, after drawing with Inter Milan and beating Sampdoria and Lazio, respectively. Conte understands what it takes to succeed in, what some believe is, the most prestigious tournament on the planet, because the 44 year old actually possesses a winner’s medal of his own, after Juventus, who he represented from 1991 to 2004, defeated Ajax in the 1995/’96 final. The UEFA Champions League is a completely different ball game to domestic football, though, and if Juventus are to challenge against the cream of Europe’s crop, they must gain maximum points against the likes of a København side who have only won one of their eight Danish Superliga matches so far this campaign, thus intensifying the pressure on the Old Lady. Conte addressed this in his prematch press conference, stating:

“We need to start on a positive note on Tuesday, with a win. We know how important it is to start the group stage well. That’s why we’ll be going there to win. It would be a mistake to underestimate Copenhagen, because the Champions League always brings out the best in teams.” – Antonio Conte

The Løverne, as they are known, have had two different managers so far this campaign, as Ariël Jacobs received the chop in late August, opening the door for Ståle Solbakken to return. Solbakken, who was most recently in charge of Wolverhampton Wanderers, previously spent five years at the helm at the Parken Stadium, where he won five consecutive league titles and, famously, took København to the Champions League’s Last 16 round. Ståle Solbakken is more optimistic than most about his team’s chances, saying:

“We need to believe we can do it, otherwise we won’t get a result. We need to stick to our own game plan, have plenty of belief and play to the best of our abilities. If we do just that, who knows, we could well spring a surprise.” – Stale Solbakken

In comparison with Conte’s starting lineup against Inter, Angelo Ogbonna replaces Andrea Barzagli, Federico Peluso replaces Kwadwo Asamoah and Fabio Quagliarella replaces Mirko Vučinić.

In comparison with Solbakken’s starting lineup against Esbjerg, Thomas Delaney replaced Thomas Kristensen and Daniel Braaten replaces Igor Vetokele.

After Paul Pogba hauled down Fanendo Adi, København were presented with their first opportunity of the game: a free-kick on the edge of the area. Pierre Bengtsson took the set-piece, only for it cannon back off of Juventus’ yellow and blue wall. Andrea Pirlo made a short pass to edge of the box to create the Bianconeri’s first chance of the match, teeing it up for Carlos Tèvez, whose effort hit the advertising hoardings, coming close to Johan Wiland’s near post.

Denmark Soccer Champions League

Juventus, perhaps slacking at the back, let Fanendo Adi onto the ball after Leonardo Bonucci had a pass intercepted, giving the Nigerian an opening to shoot, however his effort took a deflection and fell into the grateful, welcoming, hands of Gianluigi Buffon. Nicolai Jørgensen broke the deadlock at the fourteenth minute mark after capitalising on a scramble, caused by a free-kick, inside Juventus’ box, tucking it away past Buffon from close range, much to the delight of the 40,000 or so København supporters in attendance. Immediately after conceding, Juve were on the attack after Johan Wiland spilled a long range effort into the path of Fabio Quagliarella.

The 30 year old was taken to ground by the ‘keeper, yet got back up and had an effort on goal, which didn’t force Wiland into too much work. Paul Pogba received the ball mere yards away from the goal line, yet couldn’t angle his effort past the heroic shot-stopper, who prevented the equaliser and forced another corner. Given ample space and time, Carlos Tévez had a go just inside the eighteen yard box, however the Argentine couldn’t quite angle his shot into the top corner, leaving København to regroup with a goal kick. Federico Peluso whipped a cross into the penalty area, onto the head of Paul Pogba. Due to pressure, the 20 year old wasn’t able to make clean contact and the ball harmlessly went out of play. Olof Mellberg, formerly of Juventus, was the first name in the book from either side, for a challenge close to the corner flag. On that note, the whistle was blown for the half time break.

København, huge underdogs, headed into the interval with their tales wagging after Nicolai Jørgensen’s goal gave them a lead they didn’t let slip despite endless attacking onslaughts. Juventus looked somewhat lethargic, seemingly lacking in focus and out of ideas in the attacking third. København’s 4-4-2 formation was tight and compact, leaving little space for Juventus’ attack to roam in front of the defence. In order for Antonio Conte to break down this rigid system, he must make the most out of the attacking wing backs that he has at his disposal in Stephan Lichtsteiner and Federico Peluso. Paul Pogba had met his match in Christian Bolaños, who has made the battle in the middle of the park all the more intense, nullifying the young Frenchman’s influence on both sides of the pitch. If the ex-Manchester United player wants to remain on the pitch for the whole ninety minutes, he must maintain his discipline, instead of lunging into challenges on the methodical Costa Rican. If Juventus are to get anything out of this game, they must prevent Carlos Tévez and Fabio Quagliarella from being isolated. Use of wing backs would help solve part of the problem, however movement in and around the attacking third would also go a long way to a fluent offensive unit.

With no changes made by either side, play resumed in the second half, as it ended fifteen minutes previously. It was evident that Juventus had come into the second half with grit between their teeth and the mentality to go all out to not only level things up, but also go on to the win the game. Pierre Bengtsson received the first yellow card of the second half, just three minutes in, for time wasting, just before Federico Peluso picked up a booking for simulation and Stephan Lichtsteiner had his name jotted down in the book for protesting decisions against Juventus.

Denmark Soccer Champions League

Andrea Pirlo pinged the ball over a somewhat static Kobenhavn backline, leaving Johan Wiland to face one-on-situation with Carlos Tévez. The 32 year old prevented the former Manchester City striker from scoring with an impressive save, staying large and imposing. Juventus’ pressure was rewarded with the long awaited equaliser they had so desperately chased since going one-nil down early in the first half. Fabio Quagliarella was the scorer, proving Antonio Conte’s decision to start him correct. As expected, Conte opted to utilise his wing backs more prominently in the second half. An excellent example of this, would be when Federico Peluso’s cross was met by the volley of Stephan Lichtsteiner and although the attempt proved to be unthreatening, this did show signs of positivity.

Pirlo decided to test Johan Wiland from distance and did so, forcing a flimsy parry out of the Swedish international. Juventus couldn’t make the most out of the opportunity, however, and failed to claim their first lead of the night. Nicolai Jørgensen made a nasty challenge on Giorgio Chiellini, causing evident pain to the Italian, yet the official decided to leave København’s goalscorer go unpunished, angering the travelling contingent of Juventini. Fanendo Adi, who was at the forefront of many København attacks, was replaced by Rúrik Gíslason at the seventy minute mark. Paolo De Cegile was introduced to the match in place of Federico Peluso, who didn’t give a bad account of himself, attacking with intent and direction, making six crosses for his teammates. Paul Pogba and Fabio Quagliarella combined to give Arturo Vidal a chance to score, however Johan Wiland made yet another save, taking København’s chances into his own hands, saving the Danish champions from deficit in fine fashion. Sebastian Giovinco replaced Fabio Quagliarella, who did well to score with such pressure placed on his shoulders. Ståle Solbakken chucked 20 year old Youssef Toutouh in place of Christian Bolaños, positively effecting the mentality of his team. Sebastian Giovinco’s first shot since coming on was kept out by Wiland, who had really stepped up and proven his worth tonight. Andrea Pirlo’s input on Juventus’ attacking effort had increased as the game has gone on, forever providing passes with pinpoint accuracy.

With their last permitted substitutions, Georg Margreitter came on for Claudemir and Maurico Isla replaced Stephan Lichtsteiner. Carlos Tévez squandered what proved to be Juventus’ last chance to salvage three points, angling his shot into the side netting from close range. After the three minutes of added time expired, the referee drew proceedings at Parken Stadium to a close.

JamesBufton

Click on James’ name above to follow him on Twitter or visit buftonfootball.wordpress.com to read more.

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