This Preface was composed prior to the match start, on the Evernote app on my trusty 3 year-old Samsung device:
CBS/Paramount Plus, UCL broadcasting entity in the U.S., in their doubtless infinite wisdom, has created a lead-in to this match that has been organized as a compilation of extended “lowlights” from the previous 6 Juventus UCL bounce-outs. Considering the relative sizes of the 2 clubs’ fanbases worldwide and in the U.S., this seems like an odd choice to get the party started. Fortunately, they have livened up the tail-end of this segment with an extended montage of Jamie Carragher, currently one of their lead matchday analysts, getting twisted and turned inside-out repeatedly by one Cristiano Ronaldo.
Do they know something we don’t know? Is there an alternate universe in which this match has already been decided, to which only TV executives have access? As the starting players enter the tunnel, i’m disappointed, for the first time in a few years, to see Fede Bernardeschi taking a seat in the stands, along with Weston McKennie, and Gigi Buffon.
To be honest, I’d like to see all three on the pitch as this contest unfolds. I kid you not. By now you have already been made aware of the result, and are partaking of the post- match outrage and mourning that is virtually mandatory at this juncture.
Here are a few more nuggets of hysteria and cynicism from my jottings:
19 Minutes: “you can’t be serious!”…”That’s a penalty?”
Several Times: “How old is Pepe?:…“How did he do that? (robbing Chiesa of another goal”……..”Pepe again” (Pepe’s name appears 11 times in the notes.)
35 Minutes: “Chiesa industriously wins ball back”…
Ramsay needs to yield to McKennie. He’s not doing anything….”
40 min: “Pirlo looking concerned…..”…”
Morata nudges a ball toward Bonucci, whose camped out right in front of the goal, and the veteran defender reacts like you’d expect an old defender to react, by doing nothing…”
43 min: “we’re endlessly giving the ball away……Ronaldo essentially invisible…”
48 min: “Chiesa!, a gorgeous strike!. Here we go”
62 min: Chiesa’s 2nd! This kid is going to lead this squad like Del Piero, from the front!”
Sometime after the 95th minute: “30 more minutes of mayhem”.
100:49 “Chiesa crampling up…not good”
105:00 “Pirlo looking skyward for a sign.”
114:20 “That can’t possibly have happened!”
120 min: “other than the assist for Chiesa, Cristiano ineffectual in this match.”
Juventus Player Ratings:
Tek: 7 – Had a lot to do, and did most of it. Bears some of the fault for the free kick goal, despite the below-par “wall” performance. Tremendous save to rob Taremi.
Sandro: 5-was largely anonymous for the vast majority of the game.
Demiral: 4 was unlucky (and naive) to be tagged with a crucial early penalty that altered game’s trajectory; shouldn’t have started this game with De Ligt also available, has logged a lot of minutes in an up-and-down past few weeks.
Bonucci: 6 Back from injury, not particularly sharp, but made some well-timed blocks and trademark long passes.
Cuadrado: 7.5 After a slow start and some errant passes, began to get his rhythm and touch back, improved dramatically and posed a real threat whenever he had the ball at his feet.
Ramsey: 5 I can’t think of anything he did all game that impressed me. Ran around and passed some, but it all led to nothing. But that’s kind of the way I’ve seen his entire season, but in this match it was particularly un-helpful.
Arthur: 5 not one of his better matches, had relatively few touches considering his supposed role and didn’t affect anything.
Rabiot: 5.5 we saw good Adrien with some top-notch long-distance passes, and a nice effort from distance, plus a late header that went in.
Chiesa: 9 Nearly unstoppable all match, never stopped hustling, looking more and more like the future heart and soul of this squad.
Cristiano: 6 Assisted on Chiesa’s first goal, which breathed life into the squad, but seemed out of sync and devoid of ideas for much of the time.
Morata: 6 out of sync for most of the match and bungled several chances, seemed like he was fishing for penalties as often as he was actually going for goal.
De Ligt: 6 Passed accurately and handled himself well in a very short stint late.
McKennie: 5 On very late; his foul led to the free kick that ultimately delivered Porto’s improbable late victory. Otherwise ran around a bit and wasn’t on enough to get into the rhythm of the match.
Kulu: 4/10, Also a late arrival to this bonkers bash.
Bernardeschi: 5/10 Not enough time to affect the result in any meaningful way.
Manager Rating: 3 Surely 2 of the worst (and biggest) matches Juve has played all year have constituted this round vs. Porto and he will be under even greater pressure moving forward, assuming he still has the long-term backing of management, backing that eventually includes overhaul of the present haphazardly assembled squad. Despite having by far the deeper squad, was out-managed badly on this day.
Porto Player Ratings:
Marchesin: 7 Was under considerable pressure for large sections of the match, particularly after his club went down a man. Made several key saves to stop Juve from notching more.
Pepe: 7.5 Seemed almost everywhere for large sections of the match. Whacked in the head and cut at one point. Led the team from the back and set the tone as Captain. Steady and sturdy,, if battered.
Mbemba: 7 steady on the ball and in defense, particularly early. The game’s frenetic pace seemed to wear him down late on.
Manafa: 6 Defended ably, and joined the attack frequently.
Sanusi: 5 solid for most of the match, slowed down later on.
Corona: 7 equally effective in offense and defense.
Uribe: 6 strong early on, as Porto dictated play, waned somewhat over the extremely long match.
Oliveira: 9 got both Porto Goals, with the winning score both dramatic and perfectly struck (even if aided by lax bianconeri defending.
Otavio 6.5 had to cover the mercurial Cuadrado and, for the most part, did a decent job of it. Faded late on and was subbed.
Taremi: picked up an inexplicable red card early in second half, by whacking the ball into orbit, Official not amused, and Taremi send early to the showers. Presumably all is now forgiven, thanks to his noble teammates.
Conceicao Manager Rating: 7.5 with his squad in serious jeopardy, behind and a man down early in the 2nd half, he made the right moves and instilled confidence.