Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri admitted following his side’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United that Marouane Fellaini had a decisive impact towards the end.
Jose Mourinho’s introduction of Juan Mata into the game was timely, with the Spaniard netting a superb close range free-kick.
But it was Fellaini’s presence in the box which pinned Juventus back and caused chaos in the box in the lead-up to Man United’s injury time winner.
Speaking after the game, Allegri conceded that his players struggled to cope with the Belgian’s awkward presence.
“In the first game, they didn’t have Fellaini and we used his absence to our advantage,” he said.
“Tonight, he played and his physical presence was immediately felt. He controlled some high balls, although sometimes we were good at playing the ball on the ground.
“Conceding those free-kicks was our greatest mistake. That happened and we paid the price. We’ll have to learn from that.”
Once again, Fellaini made a difference in a game which only he – all 6’4 of him – could make. He brought a unique kind of attacking aggression which Juventus, for all their tactical nous, did not prepare for on the training ground.
After all, how could you? You can keep your shape and stay tight and still, no matter how hard you try, have no answer in response to the mass of limbs and hair and tenacity that is Fellaini’s attacking approach.
It sent shudders down the spine of Juventus’ defence, and United duly took advantage.