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Let’s start by acknowledging that Juventus is probably still going to advance in the Champions League knockout stage. Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. have a return leg vs. Lyon at home to undo the damage done Wednesday.
That won’t happen, however, if they turn in a similar performance.
Juventus failed to register a shot on target in a lethargic 1-0 loss to Lyon, which heads to Turin in three weeks’ time armed with a goal advantage provided by Lucas Tousart.
Ronaldo recorded a hat trick to overturn a first-leg deficit in the Champions League round of 16 last season against Atletico Madrid, which probably represented a taller task than Lyon’s lead. Still, the fact Juventus finds itself in a similar situation is problematic.
The Serie A giants never rose above a saunter as Lyon played with a brave, expansive air about it. Juve’s midfield was frequently overrun and tagged the visitors for a goal in the 31st minute, when Houssem Aouar sprung free on the left and crossed to Tousart (via Turner Sports):
— Bleacher Report Live (@brlive) February 26, 2020
Manager Maurizio Sarri, whose work with Juve this season has come under increased fire, replaced the ineffective Miralem Pjanić and Adrien Rabiot with Aaron Ramsey and Federico Bernardeschi. But the moves failed to provide much spark, as did the introduction of Gonzalo Higuain up top. A couple of late penalty shouts, including one for a possible foul on Ronaldo, fell on deaf ears.
So the question now isn’t “can Juventus rally again?” so much as “why does Juventus have to rally again?” There’s too much talent among the players to be outclassed for stretches like they were against Lyon. And credit the Ligue 1 outfit; there won’t be a lack of confidence in the rematch March 17, nor should there be.
There shouldn’t be any question who’s advancing, either. Juventus left us with one nonetheless.
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