Juventus came into the second leg of their Champions League tie against Celtic completely primed to progress through to the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Having already stunned the Scottish club 3-0 in the first leg, the Old Lady now returned home to Italy and her home fans with a huge lead in the bag that would have taken the most miraculous upset in the history of world football to ever take away.
Yet despite their big lead and first leg dominance, Juventus set out to do here just what they had done in the first leg and in the entire 2013 season so far. They looked to work the ball, beat their opponents, finish at one of the pitch and maintain their solidity defensively at the other.
And once again, Juve did all of those things here.
Celtic were simply outplayed on the night by a better side. Even if they hadn't had the huge lead on aggregate already, Juve's midfield mastery and sheer depth of talent would likely have carried them through against Celtic here—regardless of how their opponents played.
The reality was that Juventus were simply in a world of their own against Celtic—passing and moving their way around the pitch—and there was nothing their opponents could do. Nothing except stand, watch and be amazed at the technical skill and discipline executed around them.
Celtic would have their chances and their possession, sure, but the reality was that Juve let their foot off the pedal the moment this one was over.
Which some would say was all the way back in Scotland during the first leg.
Juventus are a strong and complete football team that rarely offer up anything at either end of the field—something that Celtic saw here and every team in Serie A has seen this season when forced to try and take down the Old Lady. They just don't give you the mistakes and easy chances that other teams do, and they're incredibly tough to stop as a result.
How they'll fare moving forward in the Champions League still remains to be seen, but the logic suggests they'll be disciplined and organized.
They'll be tough to break down defensively and will be consistently productive in midfield—something that has the ability to challenge the different attacking styles of Real Madrid, AC Milan and Bayern Munich, or whoever they come across in the final eight of the competition.
Either way, Juve are there, and they're definitely a side to watch this year.
First for the sheer enjoyment, but then also as a genuine contender for the biggest and most prestigious European tournament of them all.
Do Juventus have what it takes to win the 2013 Champions League?
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