Chapter 569 Masters of Counterattacking Football

Chapter 569 Masters of Counterattacking Football

Juventus FC 1: Real Madrid 0


It was as if vocal explosions were going off all around the Juventus stadium after Carlos Tevez scored the first goal of the 2015 UEFA Champions League quarter-final. The more than twenty thousand Juventus fans jumped from their seats and yelled like mad. Their chaotic chorus of voices instantly hit a crescendo that shook the entire place to the very core.

"Juventus has drawn first blood through Carlos Tevez," Sandro Piccinini, the commentator for the day, said after the cheers started fading. "Everything started with a well-time progress of play that could have as well been taken out of a typical coaching tactical book."

"Andrea Pirlo drifted back towards his goal and received the ball close to the border of his defensive third. He then used his incredible passing range to pick out Zachary Bemba, who had just sailed out of midfield to overload the right wing."

"Everything was straightforward from there on. Zachary did what he usually does best. He used his incredible ball skills and agility to beat Daniel Carvajal and skip past a sliding tackle from Toni Kroos. He approached the box from the left side and brilliantly played a ball back towards the middle to find the arriving Andrea Pirlo."

"The experienced Andrea Pirlo didn't disappoint. He effortlessly found the target with a first-time shot. Iker Casillas got a glove on the ball and denied the Italian Maestro's effort. But that wasn't enough to stop Juventus from capitalizing on the opportunity. Tevez was in a perfect position and reacted to meet the rebound and score Juventus' 1st goal during the 9th minute. What a brilliant passage of play! What a brilliant Juventus!"

"Indeed, what a brilliant Juventus," Carlo Zampa, the other commentator, agreed. "But I have to say that Real Madrid have brought problems upon themselves. They are playing a 4-4-2 double-pivot formation with two holding midfielders and two wide advanced midfielders."

"Yes, such a setup has made it hard for Juventus' attacking players to penetrate the heart of Real Madrid's defense through the middle. But at the same time, it has allowed Juventus plenty of freedom to conquer the central midfield and dictate the tempo. The result is the goal we have just witnessed."

"True," Sandro Piccinini said. "The game has just restarted. Despite conceding the goal, Real Madrid still uses the same system. Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos are playing as defensive midfielders, while Isco and James Rodríguez are the advanced wide midfielders. I don't know what Coach Carlo Ancelotti is planning. But from what I can see, his tactics are plainly handing Juventus control of the game. This will continue causing his team more trouble."

"And who gave Ancelotti the idea to use Sergio Ramos as a defensive midfielder?" Carlo Zampa, the other commentator, questioned. "No disrespect to Ramos. He's an incredible defensive player. But we have to understand that he's not a midfielder."

"In this game, his up against incredible midfielders like Zachary Bemba, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, and Arturo Vidal. They are leading poor Ramos by the nose and dictating the tempo. Take the goal Real Madrid conceded as an example. One abrupt run from Zachary was enough to shake him off and leave him confused. Following that, the young playmaker got the freedom to drift into the wing and hurt Real Madrid. The rest we all know, and the result is Juventus' 1st goal for the night."

Sandro Piccinini chuckled. "I don't want to blame Sergio alone. The rest of the Real Madrid midfielders are also not doing enough. They have not played any crucial forward passes. As a result, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo (their two strikers) have barely gotten touches on the ball during the opening ten minutes."

"The game is still in its early stages," Carlo Zampa remarked. "Maybe, Real Madrid will eventually settle and up their game. Hope it won't be too late for them."

"Who cares?" Sandro Piccinini chuckled again. "The Juventus fans in this stadium should be pleased with Real Madrid's performance. Most must be hoping that Real Madrid continues playing below-par football."

Carlo Zampa also chuckled and continued commentating on the progress of the play.


The game continued as the commentators discussed. Juventus still dominated the proceedings by relying on their supreme number of brilliant midfielders. Passes flowed like spring water from one Juventus player to another, allowing the team from Turin to dominate possession.

In that manner, ten more minutes quietly passed, and the 25th minute arrived. Zachary once again executed a sudden dash to escape the entanglement of Sergio Ramos. He raced from the attacking midfield zone and drifted back to the defensive third.

It was a move that the team had practiced on the training field several times. As such, everything that followed was smooth and natural.

Patrice Evra, the left wing-back, immediately reacted. He skipped past James Rodríguez, Real Madrid's right midfielder, and squared the ball to Zachary, who had just arrived at the border of the defensive third.

Zachary's reaction was lightning-fast. He effortlessly controlled the ball and spun around to execute a Marseille turn. His SS-graded coordination, agility, and dribbling all came into play, and he skipped past Isco, one of Real Madrid's advanced midfielders, before reorienting himself and facing the other side of the pitch.

The next moment, his eyes glowed with resolve as he realized he had a few dozen yards of space to work with. Adrenaline rapidly pumped into his system, and he raced towards the other side of the pitch like a lightning bolt.

As Zachary initiated the run from deep midfield, the rest of the Juventus players reacted as they had practiced in training. The wing-backs Patrice Evra and Stephan Lichtsteiner raced along the touchlines, shooting towards Real Madrid's half like speeding electric trains. Aside from them, Carlos Tevez, Kingsley Coman, Claudio Marchisio, and Andrea Pirlo also made strategic runs through the middle to penetrate the heart of Real Madrid's defense.

At that juncture, the Juventus players were like a wolf pack that had caught the scent of the most delicious prey. They all swarmed forward together with Zachary, hoping to do more damage to their opponents.

In the meantime, Zachary had just met an obstacle in the form of Sergio Ramos as he went past the centerline. But he didn't choose to tango with the guy since he knew that the Spaniard was a master of defensive dark arts. Instead, Zachary played a one-two with Claudio Marchisio to go past Ramos before continuing his run.

Sergio Ramos, of course, reacted as the typical Ramos. He spun around, intending to pull Zachary's shirt and stop his run toward his box. But alas, his efforts were fruitless.

Zachary was too fast for the Real Madrid player. He increased his speed to the max within a few strides and escaped the reach of Ramos. He continued darting through the middle and rushing toward Real Madrid's box like a whirlwind until he came across a blockade by Toni Kroos.

At that moment, Zachary's SS-graded passing skills worked like a charm. Choosing not to take on the German midfielder, he reacted instantaneously. He released the ball to Andrea Pirlo, the Italian Maestro, who had positioned himself within a strategic unmarked pocket of space close to the left side of the box.

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Andrea Pirlo was as tactically brilliant as ever. He took one touch before unleashing a seemingly uncomplicated but teasing cross towards the box. His passing accuracy was world-class, and he picked out Kingsley Coman from the crowd of players in the box.


A momentary silence descended upon the stadium as Kingsley Coman reacted to meet the ball. The Frenchman leaped up from the ground and outmuscled his fellow countryman Rapha?l Varane in the air. Without fear, he angled his body well and planted a header goalward.

An anxious atmosphere fell upon the stadium. All eyes and cameras were on the ball from Kingsley as it quickly darted towards the goal. Kingsley, himself, had also turned to follow the trajectory of his effort. Time seemed to have slowed as he anticipated the moment the ball would nestle into the back of the net.

But the unexpected happened, and two gloved hands abruptly appeared at the last moment. Iker Casillas, the Real Madrid keeper, had taken action. He bravely executed a full-body dive and snatched the ball out of the air with his two hands. And with that, he managed to prevent Real Madrid from conceding the second goal during the 26th minute.

However, the Real Madrid keeper didn't just stop at making the save. Casillas rose from the ground with all the urgency he could muster. And before Zachary and his teammates could react, the Spaniard rushed toward the edge of the box and unleashed a long-range one-handed throw toward the left flank.

"Counterattack!" Coach Allegri's yell sounded from the sidelines. "Fall back! Quick!" 𝙗𝙚𝒅𝒏𝒐𝒗𝙚𝙡.𝙘𝒐𝒎

"Shit..." Zachary cursed, fearing the worst. He turned in time to see Marcelo, Real Madrid's left-back, receiving the ball close to the touchline on the left flank. Zachary immediately raced back towards his half. But deep in his heart, he knew he was late.

The counterattack proceeded as Zachary had expected, and Marcelo drove the ball like a speeding Ferrari through the left wing. Arturo Vidal, the Juventus midfielder who had stayed back, tried to stop him. However, the Brazilian played it safe and released the ball toward the middle to find Gareth Bale before the opponent could close him down.

Gareth Bale, on his part, reacted as the typical Bale. He collected the ball midstride before running at Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, the two Juventus center-backs. He continued darting forward and inching closer to the defenders until the very last moment when he unleashed a well-timed pass toward his right to find James Rodríguez.

The pass from Bale was just precise, and it released Rodríguez at the right moment before he became offside. Rodríguez took a touch and raced forward before finding himself with only the keeper to beat.

Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus' experienced keeper, responded as he should. He raced out of goal, hoping to corner Rodríguez and deny him time to compose himself. Moreover, he made himself big to close down most of the shooting angles available to the opponent.

But alas, James Rodríguez seemed to have anticipated Buffon's reaction and didn't take a shot at the goal. Instead, he unleashed a simple chip over the keeper towards the far post, where Cristiano Ronaldo was arriving.

Cristiano Ronaldo's response in front of the goal was textbook perfect. He met the chip from Rodríguez and headed into the empty net. He completed the lightning-fast counterattack and scored Real Madrid's 1st goal for the night during the 26th minute. And with that, the proceedings were back to level terms.

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