Atletico Madrid 2-2 Juventus: Talking points as Juan Cuadrado strike sparks contest into life

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A drab first half was followed by a thrilling second as Atletico Madrid came from behind to draw 2-2 against visitors Juventus in the Champions League.

Juan Cuadrado’s stunning strike three minutes into the second period broke the deadlock, before Blaise Matuidi headed home an Alex Sandro cross in the 65th minute.

However, Stefan Savic pulled one back five minutes later and Hector Herrera met a Kieran Trippier corner in the final minute to secure a draw for the hosts.

JUAN MOMENT OF BRILLIANCE

Cuadrado’s presence in the starting XI would’ve drawn groans from some Juventus fans, especially since it came at the expense of more dynamic options like Federico Bernardeschi or Paulo Dybala, and not Danilo at right-back who was initially an injury doubt.

The intention was clear. The Wanda Metropolitano is a difficult place to go to and Cuadrado’s industry would lend the attack-minded Danilo support on the right flank when defending against Thomas Lemar and Renan Lodi.

The 31-year-old did his job well, tracking back winning possession on numerous occasions. But his spectacular strike early in the second half was his greatest contribution.

Having been picked out well by Gonzalo Higuain, squared up Lodi, cut inside onto his weaker side and curled his effort past a hapless Jan Oblak.

His strike breathed life into what was a dull affair up until then and forced Atletico to open up in an effort to respond.

Cuadrado

TWO POINTS DROPPED

This wasn’t an entirely convincing display from Juventus.

The Bianconeri looks like a side that’s still coming together. At the moment, they find themselves somewhere between embracing Maurizio Sarri’s philosophy and adjusting it in order to extract the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo.

It’s a tricky balancing act and a dangerous one against top opposition. Juve’s left side of defence was regularly left exposed with Ronaldo seemingly excused from attempting any sort of defensive action.

The back four shuffled across to try and cover the space but that meant the marauding Lodi on the opposite flank was afforded to room to drive into as well.

Fortunately for Juventus, Atletico never fully capitalised on this glaring weakness in the first half despite being on top. Together, Trippier and Lodi whipped in a total of 17 crosses and the Englishman finished with seven key passes but the forwards were unable to muster enough efforts on goal.

The home side eventually drew level, first pulling one back from a well-worked free-kick before a late corner was nodded in from Herrera. But three points were up for grabs and Diego Simeone will rue his side’s lack of aggression in the opening 45 minutes when they should’ve made Juve pay.

Diego Simeone

ATLETI SURVIVE RONALDO

Credit where it’s due, Trippier contained Ronaldo reasonably well without really being sucked into one-on-one battles.

He ushered the Portuguese away from threatening positions and must’ve been a huge relief for Simeone.

The former Real Madrid talisman has been the scourge of Atleti over the years, registering 25 goals and 13 assists in 33 games against an uncompromising unit that prides itself on defensive solidity.

He’s also bagged four hat-tricks against Los Rojiblancos, including one last season which knocked them out of the Champions League – the fifth time he was involved in their elimination from Europe [including two triumphs over them in the finals].

Despite restricting him all game, Simeone must’ve had a familiar sinking feeling for a fleeting moment at the death. Deep into injury time, Ronaldo produced a bit of magic.

Jinking his way inside from the touchline, he worked an opening inside the box and his fierce low drive fizzed just wide of the far post.

Close. But Atleti survived.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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Angel Di Maria stars and Idrissa Gueye destroys in PSG v Real Madrid ratings

Andy West 19/09/2019
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Angel Di Maria was the star man as Paris Saint-Germain easily overcame Real Madrid 3-0 in a battle of big guns in the French capital.

The Argentine winger grabbed the first two goals and sparked his side with a hugely energetic performance, easily outshining the stars within the visiting ranks – including Eden Hazard, who disappointed on his full debut.

Find out how everyone fared with our full player ratings.

PSG (4-3-3)

Keylor Navas 6. A quiet night against his former team, with his old teammates sending their efforts off target.

Thomas Meunier 8. Was allowed plenty of space to attack down the right and exploited it, including a stoppage time goal.

Thiago Silva 7. Dealt with everything that came his way with calm assurance, rarely looking like he even had to run.

Presnel Kimpembe 7. Powerful and committed, he complemented Thiago perfectly and made some big interventions.

Juan Bernat 8. Made a great run and cross to create the opener, typifying an all-action display which really impressed.

Idrissa Gueye 9. Magnificent. Worked hard to close down space and attacked the box when he could, a complete display.

Marquinhos 7. Very smooth at the base of his team’s midfield, establishing control which was rarely threatened.

Marco Verratti 7. Provided some classy touches and was steely off the ball, helping his team dominate the central areas.

Pablo Sarabia 7. Former Sevilla man was bright on the right of attack, nearly netting with a low strike just wide.

Mauro Icardi 6. Started his first game for PSG and worked hard without much reward before being replaced.

Angel Di Maria 9. Tucked away the opener with a smart near-post strike and curled home a brilliant second.

SUBSTITUTES

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting 6. Introduced up front after an hour and blasted a powerful half-volley over the bar.

Ander Herrera 6. Replaced the injured Marquinhos for the last 20 minutes and kept things simple to retain control.

Abdou Diallo. Came on for Sarabia with one minute remaining and barely had time to make any contribution.

REAL MADRID (4-3-3)

Thibaut Courtois 5. Should have done better with Di Maria’s first at his near post and never inspired much confidence.

Dani Carvajal 5. Easily beaten by Bernat for the opener and was off the pace all night. Had a goal disallowed for offside.

Raphael Varane 6. Twice denied Icardi clear chances with excellent challenges but didn’t always look so secure.

Eder Militao 5. First start for Los Blancos and he looked shaky, often appearing unsure of his positioning alongside Varane.

Ferland Mendy 6. Unable to get forward much as PSG steamed straight at him, but stuck to his task defensively.

Toni Kroos 5. Overrun in midfield and couldn’t find his passing rhythm on the few occasions Madrid dominated.

Casemiro 5. A sluggish performance, failing to break up PSG’s attacks and looking physically and mentally tired.

Gareth Bale 7. Curled a free-kick just over, had a brilliant chip ruled out for handball and fired another effort just wide.

James Rodriguez 6. Plenty of involvement with some sharp passing as he tried to link midfield with attack.

Eden Hazard 5. Made his full debut and came close to levelling with a fierce low strike but was largely ineffective.

Karim Benzema 5. Captain for the night but he couldn’t rise to the occasion, lacking threat other than a header just wide.

SUBSTITUTES

Lucas Vazquez 5. Took Hazard’s place in the latter stages but was unable to contribute as his team laboured.

Luka Jovic 5. Brought on to provide more attacking support to Benzema, but failed to do so. Anonymous.

Vinicius Junior 5. Replaced Bale late on, but his main contribution was flattening Di Maria and getting booked.

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How Angel Di Maria carved up Real Madrid with help from PSG new boy Mauro Icardi

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No Neymar, no Kylian Mbappe, no Edinson Cavani. No problem. In the absence of that trio, a man who is part of the furniture at Parc des Princes fired twice against his former employers twice to deservedly earn Carolina Herrera hero of the day.

Angel Di Maria took full advantage of a Real Madrid defence that had make to do without its talisman Sergio Ramos, as PSG performed in a way that suggests a first Champions League crown is by no means unthinkable this season.

30-SECOND REPORT

With Juan Bernat operating as chief touchline-hugger, Di Maria had the freedom to drift inside and made full use of the liberty. It was Bernat – after a clever flick from Mauro Icardi on his full PSG debut – who found Di Maria in the box, and the Argentine found the net with a snap near-post finish.

1809 carolina herrera Angel Di Maria2

The second on the half-hour mark was straight from his personal textbook. The 31-year-old somehow dug out a curling left-footed shot on the edge of the box, which Thibaut Courtois could do nothing about.

His influence didn’t stop there – he should have scored with a dink in the second half before setting up Icardi with a glorious chance. In the coup de grace, he set free Thomas Meunier to make it 3-0 in injury time.

STATS

SHOTS – 3

GOALS – 2

COMPLETED DRIBBLES – 4

PASS SUCCESS – 85.3%

GOT RIGHT

PSG have rarely looked anywhere near dynamic enough to win the Champions League, but here they showed they could win without the Neymar/Mbappe/Cavani triumvirate and Di Maria’s instant connection with Icardi is a big reason why.

His countryman’s work-rate and movement drew attention away from Di Maria, and the favour was returned with purpose in the box.

Icardi should have scored when Di Maria squared it to him and similarly when roles were reversed for the failed loft over Courtois. That they left goals on the pitch in an otherwise perfect night should only encourage PSG boss Thomas Tuchel.

VERDICT

If Di Maria is the fourth Beatle in Paris then it’s time to hand Ringo the microphone. His influence on proceedings, even including his diligence in defence, meant that Neymar was not missed one bit from his usual place on the left.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Di Maria’s role is diminished once Neymar returns from his ban. In fact, the return of the star trio could end up giving Tuchel a headache he’d rather not have.

RATING: 9/10

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