Post subject: No shame in losing to brilliant Barcelona for brave Juventus
6. Jun 2015, 23:44
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|The Italians fell short of a record-breaking treble in Berlin but they have nothing of which to be ashamed after another gallant display at the end of a superb season
It was a gallant effort by Juventus but, in the end, Barcelona were just too good.
Since the Bianconeri turned around their fortunes four years ago and began collecting Serie A titles for fun again, the lack of progress in the Champions League had been the only stick left with which to beat them. This season they finally returned to the very top level of European football - it was just a shame that Luis Enrique's side have worked their way into a whole new stratosphere.
The 3-1 defeat in the Berlin final will not go down as one of their better performances. Too many of their players took too long to get started. At crucial moments, they too often arrowed shots straight at the palms of Marc-Andre ter Stegen rather than truly testing the German. A normally durable defence was at sixes and sevens for long stretches too.
But the wider picture is a brighter one. Juve have given their all this season under Massimiliano Allegri and it took a brilliant Barcelona side to prevent them from walking off with an otherwise-deserved treble. As was the case for Manchester United in 2011, when the Blaugrana last lifted the Champions League trophy, the losing team can have few regrets.
For the 13 minutes between their equaliser and the killer second goal by Luis Suarez, Juve were not just level, they were in control of proceedings. They had Barcelona scrambling, they were showing that, when the Catalans don’t have the ball, they can be left chasing shadows ... but nobody keeps the ball off Barcelona forever.
Allegri has confounded critics, not least amongst the Juventus fanbase, to lead his side to the biggest stage. Alvaro Morata, who netted the Italians' equaliser, has developed from a dangerous substitute to a European star. Players like Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal, Leonardo Bonucci, Claudio Marchisio and Paul Pogba might not have covered themselves in glory in Berlin but they will look back on 2014-15 as huge years in their careers.
There were tears shed by Juventus players young and old at the end but they can be dried quickly enough. Nobody gave them a hope at the season's start and a return of two domestic trophies and a major European final is a success rather than a failure.
Questions will be asked as to whether this marks the end of the cycle for this Juventus after they selected the second-oldest-ever line-up to compete in a Champions League final but there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful, not least the fact that silencing critics has fast become par for the course on the road to Berlin.
Juventus came so near and it took a magnificent Lionel Messi and a wonderful Barcelona to beat them. There is certainly no shame in that.