The first leg between Juventus and Borussia Dortmund yielded a concrete result, and some answers can be gleaned from this performance about what might transpire in the second leg when these two teams play three weeks from now in Germany. Borussia looked like the stronger side early, consistently pressuring Gianluigi Buffon and the Juve back four. Yet it was the resurgent Carlos Tevez, who now has 21 goals in 29 games across all competitions this season for the side from Turin, who put the hosts ahead 1-0 on a counterattack after 13 minutes.
Marco Reus took advantage of Giorgio Chiellini’s slip to equalize, and the visitors continued to pressure Juventus in the midfield and the defensive third. Andrea Pirlo’s 36th-minute exit with an ankle injury only magnified the pressure from Borussia… and yet, again, it would be Juventus that took the lead they would not relinquish until the end. Paul Pogba’s streak down the flank late in the first half proved to be the difference, as Alvaro Morata found his way unmarked into the box and put his right foot on the cross to give Juventus the 2-1 lead at the intermission.
Once again, as they have so often this season, Dortmund underachieved thanks to a loose defense that could not press back quickly enough to stamp out counters. It has cost them in Bundesliga play, and it reared its ugly head now to put them in a deficit on their way back to Westphalia. But Juventus couldn’t secure a larger victory, with Tevez and Chiellini and others failing to grab another goal for insurance. That could prove costly down the road in the second leg, especially since Dortmund nabbed an away goal.
Borussia certainly has the talent to reverse the result at home in March, but while the skill is there the execution has been lacking. They generated a couple more chances than Juventus on Tuesday, yet they could not manage to take advantage of their sustained pressure or of the departure of Pirlo from the Juve midfield. An away goal is great, but Dortmund had a legitimate chance at victory in the first half.
Of course, a match takes a full 90 — and Juventus had the clear advantage in the second half, getting several strong chances on Roman Weidenfeller’s goal. But that also showed a modicum of sloppiness by the Italians when they put themselves in position to put the aggregate score out of reach and seal a spot in the quarterfinals. And with Pirlo now expected to be out three weeks with his ankle injury, they could potentially have to play the return match in Dortmund without their talented and ageless playmaker.
Dortmund was on fire early in Champions League play, and they went undefeated at home in the group stage. They could easily secure a 1-0 or 2-0 victory over Juventus, which has been consistent in Serie A this year but less so in the Champions League. Either result would put through Borussia to the quarterfinals either on away goals or 3-2 on aggregate to reach the final eight for the third straight season.