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 Post subject: Age is like fine wine
PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 1:59 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:48 pm
Posts: 9089
As some of you know, I am in love with defending. I caught myself watching this match, smiling like craze person! :roll: It was a masterpiece. To watch defending of this caliber is a blessing. :clap:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/spor ... &smtyp=cur

In Stopping Tottenham, Juventus Holds Back Time With a Smile


Quote:
LONDON — In those last few minutes on Wednesday, as Tottenham Hotspur threw all it had at Juventus in one last, desperate attempt to remain in the Champions League, something came over the gnarled veterans at the heart of Juventus’s defense.

Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini should have been furrowing their brows, gritting their teeth, clinging by their fingernails. In the far corner of Wembley Stadium, their visiting fans were singing and bouncing, nervously, as if to distract themselves from the overwhelming tension.

Tottenham, after all, possesses one of the English Premier League’s best attacking units: the power of Harry Kane, the wit of Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen, the menace of Dele Alli. With his team down by 2-1 at Wembley, behind by 4-3 on aggregate, Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham’s coach, had sent Erik Lamela and Fernando Llorente into the mix, too. There was nothing left to lose.

And so Tottenham hurled wave after wave of attack at Juventus.

For 165 of the 180 minutes of this round of 16 tie, Tottenham had seemed faster, fitter, sharper and stronger. Its energy and its dynamism had made Juventus — apparently ageless for so long — look suddenly old. Son had tormented Barzagli to such an extent that the defender had resorted to some of the darker arts to try to quiet him. Kane dared to stand up to Chiellini, and seemed to have the better of him. Alli roamed freely in the space their battle vacated.

Two quick goals from Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuaín had put Juventus ahead, but this felt like the time when Tottenham’s youthful vibrancy would be vindicated: When the legs were tired and the minds drained, Juventus would surely break. Spurs would score, extra time would ensue, and the young would vanquish the ol

And yet, at that moment, when the suffering should have been greatest, it looked — somehow — an awful lot like Juventus was enjoying itself. Chiellini and Barzagli, backed into a corner and straining every sinew, seemed to be having fun.

“That is the kind of players they are,” their coach, Massimiliano Allegri, said after his team had held off Tottenham for the 2-1 victory. “The problem is that Chiellini is 34 and Barzagli is 37. That is difficult for us.”

In the first leg of this tie three weeks ago, Juventus allowed Tottenham off the ropes in Turin. The Italians scored twice in the first 10 minutes, missed a penalty, and then ended up tying, 2-2. It was heralded as conclusive proof that this team was locked into an unavoidable decline.

Buffon smothered the ball as Andrea Barzagli, center, and the rest of the Juventus defense held off Tottenham. Credit Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press
The supporting evidence was compelling. Leonardo Bonucci, the most elegant member of its fabled defensive line, had left for A.C. Milan last summer, after a second defeat in three years in the Champions League final. In November, Buffon and Chiellini were unable to help Italy qualify for the World Cup finals.

For the first time, almost, in living memory, Juventus was not unquestionably the best team in Italy’s Serie A: It was being seriously challenged by Napoli, playing the sort of swashbuckling soccer that seemed completely beyond Allegri’s team and doing it so well that it seemed destined to win its first title in 30 years.

Time seemed to be catching up with Juventus, at last. That it was unable to keep up with Pochettino’s intense Tottenham team in Turin simply exposed that to a wider audience. For an hour or so at Wembley, the same message was reinforced. Tottenham created a raft of chances, finally scoring one through Son, and Juventus looked, well, shot.

Dybala and Douglas Costa provided some reason for optimism, but those moments were relatively rare. Even the vast bank of Juventus fans who had traveled to London seemed peculiarly quiet. This club’s mythology centers on its ability to win from almost any position — fino alla fine, as its motto goes, “until the end” — but even its fans seemed to have accepted that this was a step too far.

All of those worries remain true, of course. Juventus is not quite what it was; it is not as strong a team as last year, or as strong a team as in 2015, when it lost to Barcelona in the Champions League final. Buffon, Barzagli and Chiellini are not immortal. Their sheen will fade with time.

Underneath it, though, they have not changed. Beneath the mottled surface, they are still iron, and it is that which carried them through: their refusal to wilt; the wisdom that is measured in battle scars; and, yes, their relish for the fight.

It was there when Chiellini made a last-ditch challenge, and Buffon grabbed him by the scruff of his neck in sheer, screaming delight. It was there when Barzagli beat Lamela to the ball as it bounced along the goal-line in the final minute, and thundered it high into the sky. It was there when Buffon fell on a cross, right at the last, and Chiellini pummeled him with punches in celebration. They are not just good at this, not just at home when they are doing it. They are having fun, too.

Whether it is enough to erase the pain of last year, when Juventus lost in the final to Real Madrid, compacting what increasingly looks like a curse in this competition, is hard to say. Manchester City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid would all believe they can beat Juventus, which has lost seven European Cup finals. A level below, Liverpool and Manchester United would not necessarily be filled with fear, either. They would feel that this is an aging side, one a little past its best, one in need of rejuvenation.

And they would feel all that with some justification. Juventus is not what it was. But what it is should not be underestimated. Wizened and grizzled, tough and smart, not just ready for battle but positively looking forward to it. It is one thing to endure an onslaught and come through unscathed. It is quite another to smile as the blows rain down.

It is how Juventus reacts when it is threatened that makes it so dangerous. In those last few minutes, its players would have been forgiven for feeling that the clock was standing still, for wishing that it would move just a little faster. They did not give that impression, though. They looked, instead, like a team that always has time on its side.

_________________
metalalloy wrote:
Does the SE have Gray, Mahrez or Albrighton on our team or players of their caliber?


:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


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