Michelangelo may have died over 450 years ago, but his art still lives on today. His ‘Madonna and Child’ sculpture is still marvelled by those who travel to Bruges, despite two attempts to steal it and his legacy also continues through the inspiration that he provides plenty of other artists who will go on to create incredible works themselves. The art of the great Italian is there for all, even if many don’t see it.
Over to the beautiful game and one of it’s biggest clichés, ‘defending is a dying art’. In the modern game, defending in football is truly challenged by diving, whistle-happy referees and the craving of the spectacular. A great piece of trickery or a crashing strike hitting the back of the net will get infinite praise, but a good old fashioned slide tackle is often met with little more than a free kick call and a yellow card.
Obviously there are times when that action is warranted, but as someone who loves seeing a ‘proper tackle’ there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a great challenge go punished. However, despite this there is still hope for those football fans who love the defensive side of the game, just look at Juventus’ triumph over Barcelona (and Monaco).
The Old Lady came up against arguably the best attacking side in the world, they faced the trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez and still didn’t concede a single goal in 180 minutes over the course of the two legs. The star of the first leg was Paulo Dybala, but over the two legs you can’t look past Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini for the stand out performers of the tie.
Juventus had their chances in the second leg, with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain fluffing their lines at points, but the defensive trio stood firm whenever they were called upon throughout the two games. There was no sign that anything like PSG’s capitulation at the Nou Camp was possible in the slightest for the Turin outfit.
There was a great sense of satisfaction watching the defensive trio clearly enjoying the frustration they were causing the Catalan crowd and the players they worship. The three of them would throw themselves in front of every ball with a passionate fist pump of glee to follow.
Now I do appreciate the other side of the game, I watched on in awe as Sergi Roberto got his toe to that ingenious Neymar ball just like everyone else. However, seeing Juventus prevent a moment like that from reoccurring brought me just as much pleasure.
There is a clear split in the Champions League final four, with Atletico Madrid and Juventus being known for defensive solidity whereas Real Madrid and Monaco batter down the defences in front of them. Whilst Juventus take a 2-0 lead over Monaco into the second leg and Real Madrid a 3-0 lead over Atletico Madrid, it will be interesting to see what approach comes out on top. Juventus are in the best position they’ve been in years to lift the trophy and a big reason for that is their execution of the art of defending. True art never dies.