In a tight night of football, Juventus beat Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League.
The match in the Ukraine was won thanks to an Alvaro Morata brace and gives Andrea Pirlo a winning start to his Champions League managerial career. Who were the winners and losers?
Winner: Alvaro Morata
It has to be hard being Alvaro Morata. Rejected so thoroughly by his boyhood club Real Madrid, the Spaniard came to Juventus and looked like he was making a career for himself in Turin. Then Madrid brought him back when he didn’t really want to go only to reject him again. At Chelsea he was unwanted but had a price-tag that made him essential, and at Atlético Madrid he was a square peg in a round hole.
So now he’s back in Turin, back with the only club where he was genuinely wanted and fit superbly.
He’s played 2 games in Serie A and scored 1 goals, and now he’s playing 1 game and scored 2 goals. The Spaniard delivered the goals in a game of little chances, finishing sharply on the rebound to open the scoring and guiding a bullet header in to settle the game with five minutes to go.
For those keeping score that’s now 3 goals in 3 games for Alvaro Morata. Could this finally be the season where he unleashes his true potential? Well he’s started in the best possible way.
Loser: Giorgio Chiellini
Giorgio Chiellini got injured early in the Euro 2012 final with Italy and missed the 2015 Champions Legaue final through injury as well. The big Italian is a true stalwart at the back for Juventus, and is still the club’s best defender and their captain.
Yet he cannot stay fit. Today he left the field early in the first-half after a feeling his hamstring. Now it could just be a minor thing but knowing Chiellini’s history that’s unlikely. Which means another spell on the sideline for the man who has played just seven times in the last two years. Get well soon, Giorgio!
Winner: Aaron Ramsey
Juventus put on a functional performance away to Dynamo that saw them open their Champions League season with an important win. That win was delivered courtesy of Alvaro Morata, obviously, but Aaron Ramsey managed to distinguish himself in a tricky game, creating more chances (3) than anyone on the pitch.
The Welshman was the most lively performer in bright orange (more on that later), always looking to advance the ball and play his team-mates in. And in the move for the opening goal it was his delicious backheel which unleashed Kulusevski’s shot, which of course led to Morata’s finish.
Loser: Mircea Lucescu
Imagine giving a player their debut as a youngster, then watching them grow to become one of the very best players in the world? Imagine watching them win a league title, the Champions League, the World Cup – and knowing that none of it would have happened without the faith and confidence you showed in them?
Then imagine that player retiring, going into management, and in his first Champions League game as a coach, he walks into your back yard and beats you. Without his best goalscorer and also young defensive stud. That’s pretty humiliating stuff, and it’s what Mircea Lucescu is going through now with Andrea Pirlo.
Winner: Andrea Pirlo
Speaking of Pirlo, the Italian is a winner on many levels. First he obviously won, which is especially impressive given this is his Champions League debut as a coach and in his four Serie A games in charge he’s yet to win away, drawing twice.
Of course Pirlo was fortunate that they came to a half-empty stadium in Kyiv, and they did so in October rather than in December when the temperature is orders of magnitude colder. But that’s just another mark of him being a winner. The football may not be fantastic (yet) but it is controlled and competent and, of course, victorious.
It’s not often that Adidas get things wrong lately. The German sports giant have been producing some quality kits of late, their work with Arsenal has been especially supreme, but tonight they have to take a big loss because what on earth was that Juventus kit?
Bright orange can work as a kit colour, just ask Valencia, but brown orange from head-to-toe plus some strange print on just the front of the shirt? Juve looked like inmates in a federal penitentiary who had been having too much fun in art class. Absolute nonsense.