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Champions League Review: Juventus Held At Home By Sevilla

Champions League trophySevilla have now gone 300 minutes without scoring at the Juventus Stadium but this was a valuable point for Jorge Sampaoli’s team away to the Italian champions.

Having played a goalless 120 minutes against Benfica in the 2014 UEFA Europa League final and lost 2-0 here to Juve last season, Sevilla might have been forgiven for a touch of trepidation but their tactical plan involved pressing Gianluigi Buffon so that Juve could not play out from the back.

That set the tone as Sevilla sought to regain possession quickly, although the game’s best chance came when the tables were turned. Sami Khedira won the ball and quickly found Dani Alves; Gonzalo Higuaín’s header rattled the bar.

Sergio Rico was beaten then but made a series of cool interventions, including a diving tackle on Paulo Dybala in the first half and a full-length stop to deny Alex Sandro in added time.

Key player: Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
Jorge Valdano was at the Juventus Stadium and described Dybala as the “most naturally talented” young footballer emerging from his native Argentina today. The 22-year-old striker showed velvet touches, intelligent movement and threat to back up Valdano’s praise. His link-up play helped lay on Higuaín for a header that cracked off the bar, and his quick thinking and even quicker sprint onto a loose ball in the first half was Rico’s only real test all night.

Pjanić crucial for Juve
While waiting for Claudio Marchisio to return from a knee injury, Juventus must rely heavily on Miralem Pjanić’s quality and creativity in midfield. The former’s absence was felt in the opening period when Dybala was forced to drop deep to pick up the ball – with Dybala, and his left foot, far from the opponents’ goal, the Juve attack certainly looked less dangerous.

All change against at Sevilla
Sevilla’s starting line-up featured just four players who appeared in the UEFA Europa League final defeat of Liverpool four months ago, with Adil Rami, Steven N’Zonzi, Sergio Escudero and Vitolo the only survivors. It is testimony to the tremendous work of Sevilla’s technical department, led by the famous Ramón ‘Monchi’ Rodríguez, that there can be such turnaround and a terrific ‘champion’ side like Juventus can still be matched tactically and technically.