Friday, October 22, 2021

Juventus Pick Up Win at Malmo in Champions League Opener

It was the third time Malmo and Juventus faced off in the UEFA Champions League. However, it was third time unlucky for the Swedish side, because The Old Lady picked up their biggest win against them yet.

Malmo started energetically, unafraid to advance far up on the pitch. They stick to their game plan no matter the opposition. This works against weaker teams like Riga and HJK. It even works against Rangers and Ludogorets Razgrad, as Malmo proved by beating them to reach the Champions League group stage for the third time in their history. However, this plan does not work against a top European club like Juventus, as highlighted by The Old Lady’s performance.

Malmo’s dynamic start was undone by Alex Sandro in the 23rd minute. The first half kept on being characterised by a lack of chances following the opening goal. Then Malmo’s chances were extinguished in the most heartbreaking way imaginable. Paulo Dybala converted his penalty for Juventus, even though Ismael Diawara was painfully close to reaching it. Next, just a minute later, Alvaro Morata extended their lead from out of nowhere, making it 3-0 at half-time. A complete disaster for any team, especially an underdog like Malmo.

The second half didn’t start much better for Malmo. Juventus could just play on the result, waiting for the time to run out. Dybala in particular was impressive, able to do essentially whatever he wanted. Possessing both an offensive and defensive role, the few times Juventus required it. Regardless, it was Moise Kean who made it 4-0 – had it not been for that dreaded offside rule. Juventus would have to settle with a convincing 3-0 away win, though.

The one positive takeaway Malmo can extract from this fixture is that playing on this level always provides answers from a tactical point of view. Top teams like Juventus will expose the glaring weaknesses of a weaker team emphatically, and any half-decent manager will know how to make adjustments accordingly. Denmark’s top goalscorer Jon Dahl Tomasson is certainly one of those managers.

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