Atlético Madrid’s 2-0 first leg Champions League victory over Juventus has them on the verge of progression to the quarter-finals, adding to Juve’s inconsistent form in Europe this season.

Despite holding 64% of possession and firing three shots on target, Juve were unable to hit the back of the net and were made to pay when Atléti scored their two goals in a five-minute period late in the match. Juve were also lucky not to lose by more thanks to the VAR.

The loss was Juve’s third in the Champions League this season, who finished two points above Manchester United in their group. Despite their form in the Champions League, Juve are well clear in the Serie A title race, with a massive 13-point gap separating them from second-placed Napoli. Their form in Europe has simply not matched their domination in Italy.

With the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, many expected Juve to win their first Champions League crown since the 1995/96 season. They came close in the 2016/17 season, where they made the final against Real Madrid. However, barring a strong second leg performance, they look set to be eliminated in the round of 16 stage.

Juve’s two other defeats in this season’s Champions League came against Manchester United at home and against Young Boys in Switzerland, with the latter occurring after Juve had secured progression to the knockout stages.

Last night’s loss to Atletico is more disappointing however, due to it occurring at such an important time. Juve could have earned themselves an advantage heading into the second leg, but they now find themselves on the brink of elimination.

A much stronger performance is needed for Juve to progress to the quarter-finals. An early goal would give them the belief that they can overcome the deficit. Atléti have only won once away from home in this season’s Champions League, which came against a struggling Monaco. They also lost 4-0 to Borussia Dortmund and drew 0-0 to Club Brugge. Their away form may play into their heads going into the second leg, and Juve may be able to exploit this to progress.

Juve must produce a strong performance in the second leg and not repeat the same mistakes. Despite their Serie A dominance, elimination from the round of 16 of the Champions League would be mark their season as a failure, given the expectations at the beginning of the season.

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Tim Sperliotis
tsperliotis@gmail.com