Atletico Madrid and Juventus met in the first leg of the Round of 16 for the Champions League. Atletico was able to win 2-0 at home against the Italian heavyweights this past Wednesday. This was the third time these two teams have met in the Champions League although Juventus has never been able to be Atletico. Both teams have had solid defensive performances all year long but Atletico was able to wear down the Italian defense. Many are shocked at the result because of the fact Juventus have just signed one of the worlds best players, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo throughout his career has come up big for his teams in the Champions League, but he didn’t really look like he came to play against his past rivals.
The first half was stellar performances from both defenses. Atletico’s striker Diego Costa received a yellow card in the seventh minute, which means he is out for the second leg, which isn’t a big loss for Madrid because of the fact that they just signed the Spanish striker Alvaro Morata. Atletico almost had a penalty called for them, but the referee went to VAR and decided that Costa was fouled outside of the box, giving Atletico only a freekick.
The second half was all action coming from Atletico. Their first chance came after Antoine Greizmann played Costa through but Costa’s shot went well wide of the goal. Atletico’s next chance came two minutes after Griezmann’s chip was tipped by Szczesny over the bar. Costa was subbed off for Morata and Morata was able to head in a cross to give Atletico the lead, but the goal was reversed after the referee went to VAR again and decided that Morata pushed Chiellini down before heading in the cross. Atletico kept knocking at Juventus’ door and was finally able to find the back of the net through Jose Gimenez in the 78 minute. A corner was swung in that Morata headed into Mandzukic and Gimenez was able to blast the loose ball past Szczesny. Atletico was able to double their lead five minutes later through their other centreback, Diego Godin. Atletico swung in a set piece that came to Godin at the back bar and he was able to karate kick the ball into the back of the net from a very difficult angle. It was a superb goal from the Uruguayan centreback.
Juventus was not able to find anything offensively, even though they have star players like Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Mario Mandzukic. Atletico’s defensive chemistry has been tight for the past couple of seasons and they were able to stop any attack that the Italians threw at them. After the game ended, Ronaldo stated to the press “I have five Champions League (titles), they have zero. This was in response to the Atletico fans that were trolling Ronaldo throughout the game. The second leg will be played on March 12 in Turin at 4:00 PM (EST).