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Juventus demonstrating their prowess in the Champions League

Thursday 23rd February 2017
Juventus have been impeccable so far this campaign and they produced another victory Wednesday night, this time away to Porto in the Champions League. The Bianconeri are formidable from back to front, capable of competing among Europe's finest, and they have the men at their disposal to achieve an unprecedented feat for the club this season.

After their Champions League last 16 exit the previous time around, the Old Lady had further determination to progress to the later stages this campaign and found themselves drawn in a group that contained Sevilla, the Europa League winners for the past three consecutive seasons, former French superpowers Lyon, and the undisputed force in Croatian football, Dinamo Zagreb. It wasn't the easiest of draws, but Juventus made it look straightforward by winning four of their six matches to finish top of the group, while keeping four clean sheets and scoring 11 times.

As expected, club record signing, Gonzalo Higuain produced in front of goal, to reimburse a small fraction of the £75 million paid to Napoli for his services. Although this impressive Juve side's foundations are built on a solid defence, they are efficient at both ends of the pitch, and in Higuain, the Serie A champions now possess a striker who can elevate them to the next level. The Bianconeri are a major threat to their rivals in this season's Champions League, which they proved once again in their latest encounter on their trip to Portugal.
Juventus entered the Estadio do Dragao aiming to take command of the last 16 tie and send out a statement to their rivals vying for the trophy. Their task was made simpler when after just 27 minutes, Porto's Alex Telles saw red for his second bookable offence, and from that moment onwards, Juve took firm control of the game. Although they had to wait until the 72nd minute to break the deadlock, courtesy of a strike from youngster Marko Pjaca, the Old Lady dominated the contest throughout and averaged 77% of possession.

Brazilian full-back, Dani Alves then added a second just two minutes later to give his side a commanding lead. Both goalscorers on the night came on as substitutes, which is evidence of the Italian champion's strength-in-depth. Miralem Pjanic, the Bosnian playmaker, was sensational all evening as he conducted play from midfield and ended the game with a pass completion rate of 90%. Along with their attacking threat, Juventus' resolute defence was once again on display as they claimed their fifth clean sheet in this season's competition.

Juventus have been almost impenetrable at the back this season, conceding just 17 times in 25 Serie A games, which is a feature of their recent success. At the age of 39, Gianluigi Buffon continues to perform and be dependable between the sticks and with Giorgio Chiellini sitting just in front, a player recognised as one of the most consistent central defenders in world football, Juve remain a fearsome defensive unit. Combative German, Sami Khedira is also having an excellent campaign by adding vital protection to the backline. The Bianconeri's immense talent in defence could help deliver the treble this season - Champions League, Serie A, and Coppa Italia, for the first time in the club's 120-year history.
One man who can't be forgotten is Massimiliano Allegri, a winner of five major trophies during his two full seasons in charge of the Turin club and on course to add to that total in the near future. The Former AC Milan manager has proved a huge success and as well as guiding the club to silverware, he's an uncompromising leader who can handle the pressure that comes with managing at the highest level - which he proved by dropping influential centre-back Leonardo Bonucci for the Porto game after a recent bust-up between the pair. Without a doubt, the Old Lady are in excellent hands - but what can they achieve this season?

Domination of the Italian game looks set to continue as Allegri's side sit top of Serie A with a seven-point advantage; the Bianconeri also remain in contention to triumph in the domestic cup, with a semi-final tie against Napoli on the horizon. However, after falling at the final hurdle two seasons ago against Barcelona, Juve are desperate to taste success in Europe's most renowned club competition. Juventus last lifted the trophy in 1996, coming agonisingly close on four occasions since only to suffer defeat in the final, but they possess the ingredients to be crowned European Champions for the third time when the final takes place in just over three months time.

Allegri's team are now overwhelming favourites to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League at the expense of their Portuguese opponents. With no discernible weaknesses in their side and big game players among their squad, Juventus are capable of competing against their most formidable European counterparts. Barcelona are on the verge of elimination from the competition, while the other two global superpowers, defending champions Real Madrid and German title holders Bayern Munich, are showing no signs of invincibility. So, could this be the year of the Bianconeri and can they win the Champions League for the first time in 21 attempts?
Danny Glendenning

Passions include reading, sport, and nights out with friends. A football fanatic whose writing career began in May 2016. Now 30 years old, lives in South Yorkshire - local team is Doncaster Rovers, although heart lies with Arsenal. Contributing editor for It's Round And It's White. Current claim to fame is an interview with Ron Atkinson. Always looking for work, either editing or writing. Contact via email: Dannysg1988@outlook.com. Or Twitter: @DannySG1988.



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