What the world saw in the Champions League clash between Galatasaray and Juventus over the last two days will forever remain in the books. Recognized as an authentic hell due to the massive supportive crowd, the Turk Telekom Arena yesterday hosted a game in an entirely frozen environment that forced the referee to suspend the match after only 31 minutes in the first half to then resume it today.
For Juventus, who only needed a tie to qualify, the situation was harder than expected, considering all kinds of negative aspects that resulted from the bad weather. This included the extra physical and mental fatigue from having to prepare for such an important match twice in two days, being stuck in the rush-hour traffic of Istanbul, having to change hotels and so on.
However, the biggest challenge for Juventus was performing in a completely unplayable pitch, which prevented the Bianconeri to play as they know best. As a matter of fact, only the brilliant Paul Pogba was sporadically able to manage the ball efficiently on the ground. Every one else struggled with the ball at their feet, including Arturo Vidal.
In reality, Antonio Conte and his team are not to blame for not winning this match. Galatasaray found a late goal right when the Old Lady was playing better. Misfortune had a major role in this goal as it could have been the total opposite.
On the other hand, Juventus’ elimination can only be attributed to the wasted opportunities in previous games, including the one against Real Madrid at Juventus Stadium, when a great first half was cancelled by two defensive errors. Moreover, the ties in the first two matches, against Copenhagen and Galatasary, are the major reasons for the failure.
Certainly, adding only six points in as many games in such an accessible group makes this season a total failure for the Bianconeri, who were significantly reinforced in the summer transfer market with prestigious players such as Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente.
Despite all this, however, it has to be considered that the European adventure of last year was significantly positive, considering that they were only eliminated by the historic Bayern Munich in quarter finals, a stage that they had approached as the only unbeaten team in the tournament.
For this reason, there cannot be any excuses for this year’s elimination. Without a doubt, every single Juventus player is aware that they needed to achieve qualification prior to the Istanbul game. Furthermore, the negative European performances by the so-called top-players such as Tevez should lead to the team to reflect on their decisions, as the results were better with the likes of Alessandro Matri and Emanuele Giaccherini, who were sold without regrets in the beginning of the season.
On the contrary, the Old Lady is living a completely different situation in Serie A, where it’s first in the standings with a three-point advantage over Roma. They have won the last seven games in a row without even conceding a goal.
Especially considering the Champions League elimination, the Serie A title has now become even more important for Conte, who will try to save the season by winning the third domestic title in a row, which would also officially be the 30th Scudetto in history.
Nevertheless, even this title will not hide their failure in Champions League, which has to be considered an obligation for such a prestigious club. Maybe the season could only be saved by an eventual victory in the Europa League final, which will ironically be played at the Juventus Stadium.