It was a simply perfect performance from Juventus as they pulled off what previously seemed impossible to advance beyond Atletico Madrid to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium, it seemed like overcoming this scoreline would be an impossible task versus a side who have built a reputation on their compactness and defensive solidity. Yet Juve’s star player Cristiano Ronaldo (£7.73) paid no attention at all to the mountain his side had to climb, scoring a sensational hat-trick as his side advanced.
Such a display served to issue a warning to the remaining teams in Europe’s most elite competition; the Old Lady are armed with a potent weapon and are in no mood to rest until they lift the trophy on June 1st.
Yet it was not only Ronaldo’s performance that wowed observers during the match in Turin, as Coach Max Allegri drew the very best from his entire team. Leonardo Spinazzola (£0.94) made a huge impression at left wing-back on his Champions League debut, terrorising the Atleti defence with his forward runs and crossing.
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Both 25-year-old Italian international Federico Bernardeschi (£1.98) and former Liverpool midfielder Emre Can (£1.18) enjoyed their best performances in Bianconero to date, but in truth every member of the XI upheld their individual duties to perfection on the night.
In just 90 minutes, many went from discussing Juve’s exit to their credentials of potential Champions League winners. On Friday morning, they were drawn versus Ajax in the quarter-final, a tie that they would certainly hope to advance from without too many problems.
Should they do so, they will face either Tottenham Hotspur or Manchester City in the semi-final, a mouth-watering fixture whatever the outcome. This left many discussing a Ronaldo versus Lionel Messi (£15.36) final as Barcelona were pulled out on the other side of the draw, but there is much work to do before either side can reach that point.
“I’m neither happy nor unhappy with the draw,” Juve Vice-President Pavel Nedved told Sky Italia afterwards. “They will be two beautiful games. I really liked Ajax against Real Madrid, so we need to be very careful.”
“Cristiano Ronaldo? All our lads have earned two more matches in the Champions League. We must face them with plenty of enthusiasm.”
It is not only enthusiasm that Juve need in order to reach their stated aim of winning the competition for the first time since 1996. They must play in exactly the same way as they did versus Atleti in the second leg; with a perfectly-executed game-plan, eleven players giving their all, and a super-human Cristiano Ronaldo leading the charge.