Maestro Massimiliano Allegri makes all the right moves for Juventus
It took a tactical masterstroke from Massimiliano Allegri to ensure Juve scored their two goals and defeated Tottenham 2-1 at Wembley to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
This was a particularly difficult game for Juventus, who struggled to settle in, control the overwhelming energy and remain composed. Yet Juve are rarely a side that outplay the opponent, they simply exploit moments in the match to punish the opponent, as they did again.
Adding width and energy on the flanks ensured success, solidity and the two goals required while their game management proved important yet again.
Allegri deserves all the credit for this win. An ageing squad with little to no options on the bench, they turned the tie around based on the coach's reading of the game, adjusting as he saw fit. He was criticised throughout for Juve's performance and showed exactly why the likes of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and the Premier League all have eyes on a man who knows how to win even when his side is outplayed.
Keeping the ball has proved a problem for Juve. Their experience and Allegri's tactical nous made the difference tonight but they cannot hope to be so lucky if they cannot remain composed and ensure solidity throughout the match.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- A brilliant manager, Allegri made the right substitutions to get Juventus back into the game and ensure great balance, solidity and game management. Another knockout tie won for the maestro with so very few options on the bench.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK, Gianluigi Buffon, 6 -- Nothing he could do on the goal, but played with authority and led from the back to ensure the win.
DF Andrea Barzagli, 6 -- Heung-Min Son made his life a nightmare and Barzagli clearly struggled when he was out wide. Improved when he was moved into the middle and pulled off that goal line clearance to earn an extra point.
DF Mehdi Benatia, 5 -- Surrendered to chaos and struggled to maintain the organisation at the back. Earned a yellow card that will see him miss the first leg of the quarterfinal. However, he never stopped trying and made some important clearances. Went off with an injury.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 7 -- Struggled initially with the pace and energy of the opponent and in containing Harry Kane. A great performance thereafter as he roared like the warrior he is, throwing everything he had to secure the result. His words in tribute to Davide Astori will remain in our hearts.
DF Alex Sandro, 6 -- Started well, then suffered to help contain. Improved when the tactics changed in the second half, it suited his abilities and he proved more useful. Some good dribbles.
MF Sami Khedira, 6 -- Delivered a fine assist for Gonzalo Higuain to equalise and tried to get into the right positions to make an impact but he's not physically capable of providing the necessary help in midfield like he once did.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 5 -- Disappointing. His talent could achieve so much but he surrenders to physicality and nerves quickly. So easily bullied. He is the man who is supposed to control the midfield, to lead in the middle and instead he's the easiest one to target. At least he was more precise with his passing tonight.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 5 -- How many times did he badly control the ball? Only 17 passes made in 60 minutes? His energy was welcomed and he tried to close down the opponent but he must be better on the ball.
MF Paulo Dybala, 7 -- Anonymous for most of the match but his goal was worth its weight in gold. Another match winner for the awesome talent.
MF Douglas Costa, 7 -- He should have been awarded a penalty but he was one of the few who utilised his pace to create danger and relieve pressure from the defence. Worked hard for the team, but we have to take issue with how inaccurate his passing is at times.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 8 -- A very good game from the player who worked hard for the team. He not only scored the equaliser but delivered the perfect assist to unleash Dybala.
DF Kwadwo Asamoah, 7 -- With him on the pitch, Juve could actually get out of their own half. He proved excellent, provided the physicality and the intelligence to ensure balance.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 7 -- Helped to provide the width Juventus needed to threaten Spurs and create the danger on his lane. Excellent cross.
MF Stefano Sturaro, N/A -- Came on and nearly scored!
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.