Juventus appear serious contenders for the European title after easing into the last eight at the expense of Borussia Dortmund, who, says Andy James, are in a period of transition.
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The home crowd may have produced a spectacular choreographed display depicting Borussia Dortmund's 1997 UEFA Champions League final triumph against Juventus prior to kick-off, but the hosts' performance in Wednesday's round of 16 re-run could hardly have been further removed from the Schwarzgelben's night of glory in Munich 18 years ago.
Indeed, the pre-match mosaic in the stands sparkled considerably more than Dortmund's showing on the pitch as Massimiliano Allegri's visitors expertly dispatched their opponents to cruise into the quarter finals by way of a 3-0 victory that took them through 5-1 on aggregate.
UEFA.com picks out five points to consider from a thoroughly positive evening for the Bianconeri.
Juventus are serious contenders
Looking at the Juventus starting lineup before the game, it was clear just how much quality they possess – even without the injured Andrea Pirlo. Another big name, Paul Pogba, was forced to withdraw early on, but even with two key midfielders missing, the likes of Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio put in top-class performances to ensure it was the Italians who were always in control. Their defence was resolute throughout, two-goal Carlos Tévez outstanding in attack. Put simply, it was difficult to identify any obvious weaknesses in this burgeoning Juventus team and they have every reason to believe they can go far in this competition.
Dortmund beaten at their own game
Tévez's early stunner certainly changed the complexion of the match, but from there Juventus were tactically immaculate. Dortmund boss Jürgen Klopp had said before the game that it would be difficult to play against an Italian side who only needed a draw and, once the Serie A leaders were in front, it was twice the task. Juve defended superbly in the first half, suffocating the space between the lines and forcing Dortmund to abandon their quick-passing game for uncharacteristic long balls. In the second period the visitors showed similar intelligence, soaking up pressure and counterattacking to kill off the tie in the kind of lethal manner previous BVB teams would have been proud of.
Reus riled by Vidal
Any hopes of Dortmund reversing the 2-1 first-leg deficit relied heavily on Marco Reus. Juventus, and particularly former Bayer 04 Leverkusen midfielder Vidal, knew this and set about shutting him out of the game early on. Vidal, well-acquainted with Reus from his time in the Bundesliga, put in two or three hefty challenges in the opening period. Some arguably challenged the rules, but if intimidation was the aim of the game, it worked. Reus, riled by the rough treatment he was receiving, reacted petulantly at one stage with a little shove off the ball. His touch was also surprisingly sloppy at times, especially in the first half, and ultimately the normally explosive winger was unable to muster a shot on target.
BVB's bubble has burst
As the Juventus fans celebrated with their heroes, the Dortmund support saluted their troops in a manner which, while on the one hand was admirable, belied a general sense of resignation that this BVB squad's heyday has passed. The performance was their most unthreatening at this level in recent memory and a 14th defeat in all competitions this term leaves the club facing the prospect of a season without European football for the first time since 2009/10.
Stars such as Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze are long gone and it was that kind of extra class which inspired Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles and the 2013 UEFA Champions League final. The current team, though talented, do not boast quite the same pedigree – Kevin Kampl and Adrián Ramos are only getting their first taste of Europe's premier club competition this season – and the fans appear to accept that the time has come for Dortmund to regroup and plot their next long-term assault on the continent's elite.
Power shift in the offing?
The Bundesliga has enjoyed a boom period this decade, with FC Bayern München reaching three of the last five UEFA Champions League finals and Dortmund joining them in 2013. Germany has overtaken Italy in the UEFA five-year coefficients in that timeframe, with the majority of their European representatives making it to the knockout stage throughout. This season things have transpired somewhat differently, Bayern notwithstanding. Just two of Germany's seven clubs (Bayern and VfL Wolfsburg) remain in European competition at the time of writing, while Italy still have all six of their teams gunning for glory. They will be hoping to close the gap in the rankings with continued success in this season’s tournaments. Juventus, no doubt, will be spearheading that particular offensive.