Atletico Madrid 2-2 Juventus player focus: A game of contrasting halves for Matthijs de Ligt

Sooraj Kamath - Writer 01:56 19/09/2019
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Atletico Madrid and Juventus played out a thriller at the Wanda Metropolitano with the spoils being shared after a 2-2 draw.

The visitors went 2-0 up thanks to goals from Juan Cuadrado and Blaise Matuidi in the second half. But Stefan Savic pulled one back with a header before Hector Herrera equalised in the death to give his team a point from a crucial encounter.

Atletico were the dominant side in the first half, but had most of their attacking moves thwarted by a sturdy Juventus defence that stood tall.

Matthijs de Ligt played a crucial role in nodding away a plethora of deliveries from either wing and keeping Juventus in the contest until the break.

We’ve inspected the Dutchman’s performance:

KEY-STATS

Minutes: 90

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

Passes (accuracy): 42 (93%)

Tackles: 0

Dribbled past: 0

Interceptions: 0

Clearances: 9

30-SECOND REPORT

De Ligt could not keep a clean-sheet, but this performance will be seen as a good improvement from him after a poor start to his Juventus career.

The Dutchman put on a shift that the injured Giorgio Chiellini would approve of as he partnered Leonardo Bonucci to keep the fiery Atletico attack at bay for most parts of the game. He exuded confidence and rarely put a toe out of line in the first half.

But the later part of the second half saw a nervous De Ligt take the pitch as Atletico inched closer to the come-back. He could not react well to the opposition’s desperation for a goal and his good work from the first half was almost undone.

GOT RIGHT – CLEARANCES

De Ligt (nine) produced at least three more clearances than any other player. That he was not among players with most tackles is understandable, given the capital side prefers crossing the ball into the box over building up from the centre.

The hosts hence had to resort to set-pieces and crosses as their greatest weapons in this tie. Nine clearances in such a game will count for a solid show at the back.

GOT WRONG – DECISION-MAKING

This is something that comes with experience and criticism of the 20-year-old star should be taken with a pinch of salt. But De Ligt could have done better with his decision-making both defensively and offensively.

The Dutchman can’t be blamed for Atletico’s goal but it appeared that he was confused as to which player he must mark. His lack of lucidity in sticking to a man provided Savic with a head-start over Rodrigo Bentancur and the Montenegro defender headed it home.

VERDICT

De Ligt has not enjoyed a rosy start to his time at Turin. The former Ajax defender endured a sub-par pre-season and his inclusion in Juventus’s starting line-up was conditional to Chiellini’s injury.

The expectations were high and the 20-year-old was finding it hard to adapt at his new club.

The Dutchman also delivered a shambolic performance against Napoli in a game that the Turin side was lucky to win 4-3. A test against Atletico at one of the best stadiums in the world demanded a drastic improvement.

De Ligt could not keep a clean-sheet but he will look at this performance in a positive light and work on getting better ahead of the bigger games to come. For now, he must take credit for keeping the hosts at bay in the first half, despite being called into more often than he would have expected.

Rating: 6/10

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