TURIN, Italy (AFP) – Juventus secured their ticket for the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in two years after dominating a listless Atletico Madrid in an entertaining scoreless draw in Turin on Tuesday.
While the Spaniards were already qualified thanks to the four-match winning run that followed their opening day defeat to Olympiakos, Juventus required just a point to qualify for the knockout phase. Coach Massimiliano Allegri had underlined his side’s intention to go for a win with a two-goal margin that would allow the Turin giants to snatch top spot from Diego Simeone’s reigning Spanish champions.
But despite dominating in all departments, the Italians failed to convert chances into goals.
The draw means Atletico finish top of Group A on 13 points, with Juventus second on 10 and Olympiakos, who beat Malmo 4-2, finishing third on nine to drop into the Europa League.
“The most important thing was to qualify from the group and that’s what we have done,” said Allegri. Juventus suffered a minor blow before kick-off when Claudio Marchisio was ruled out with a bout of flu and replaced by Roberto Pereyra, which forced Arturo Vidal back to the right side of midfield.
But the late change did not upset Juve’s plans.
Atletico were restricted to only one real chance on goal in the opening half and Juventus were allowed to move the ball around with surprising ease. But with Atletico among the tournament favourites after their 4-1 defeat to city rivals Real in last May’s final, Simeone admitted his side’s priority was to defend top spot.