Juventus secured their spot in the Round of 16 of the Champions League with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Lokomotiv Moscow at the RZD Arena on Wednesday.
After Aaron Ramsey’s early tap in was quickly cancelled out by an Aleksei Miranchuk follow up, Douglas Costa sealed the points and qualification with a magnificent solo effort in stoppage time.
Despite the victory, coach Maurizio Sarri blasted his side for a lack of tactical awareness and accused them of being guilty of too many technical errors, as Lokomotiv dominated portions of the game.
Sarri must return to the tactics board
Juventus secured victory and qualification, but struggled through large swathes of the game and were fortunate to still be level when Costa netted.
A defensive four that saw little attacking intent from either full-back allowed Lokomotiv to push forward with confidence, whilst there appeared to be a lack of communication between defence and midfield.
Indeed, it was the hosts that won the midfield battle, with Inter flop Joao Mario finding plenty of space between the lines and goalscorer Miranchuk able to drop deep and drive into the box at will. Missing the energy of Blaise Matuidi, Juventus struggled to retain possession and were often left frustrated in the middle.
Juventus strike at the death
Twice struggling against Lokomotiv Moscow, twice Juventus have struck late on to down their Russian opponents in recent weeks. After Paulo Dybala’s brace secured a late win in Turin, it was Costa’s turn to break Muscovite hearts with his wonderful dribble and finish.
Juventus have made light work of Group D and would be sitting pretty on maximum points had they not collapsed to a 2-2 draw against Atletico Madrid in the opening round of fixtures. As it is, they have secured qualification with two games to spare and can look forward to another season of knockout football.
Even as they laboured against Lokomotiv, Maurizio Sarri’s men showed superior fitness and the ability to step up their play a gear or two late on to press for a winner.
Bianconeri must get Ronaldo firing
Juventus got off to a flyer as Cristiano Ronaldo’s freekick from a wide position was fumbled by goalkeeper Guilherme, with Ramsey ready to apply the finish. However, Ronaldo will have been desperate to claim the goal for his own, particularly as his own scoring touch appears to have deserted him.
The Portuguese superstar has only scored once in this campaign, against Bayer Leverkusen, and has laboured in front of goal for the Bianconeri.
Indeed, the 34-year-old has seen a Group Stage goalscoring ratio of 1.1 per game at Real Madrid tumble to 0.2 across his two seasons in Italy. Whilst Ronaldo often saves his best work for the biggest stages, Sarri must find a way to get his marquee man more involved to ensure Juventus are winning matches that they ought to be comfortable in.