After creating several clear chances in their Europa League knockout round play-off tie against Nantes, Juventus will be wondering if they just had a bad night in front of goal or if there is enough quality in attack to ensure further progress in Europe.
The Bianconeri drew 1-1 against Les Canaris on Thursday evening at the Allianz Stadium despite dominating possession and having more shots on target. However, an admirable performance from Alban Lafont in the Nantes goal and the frame of the goal-denying Federico Chiesa in the second half prevented La Vecchia Signora from registering a victory.
Juventus will travel to France next Thursday evening as they fight to stay in the Europa League for 2022/23 but they need to be sharper in attack.
Di Maria dazzles early before costly error
Juventus dominated the second half and displayed great comfort on the ball with Angel Di Maria being the clear standout.
It was Di Maria’s long pass that found Chiesa, who headed the ball across for Dusan Vlahovic to open the scoring, and the Argentinian veteran perhaps should have scored at least once himself.
However, it was his indecisiveness in the Nantes penalty area which led to the French team equalising. After he hesitated to release the ball early, he was dispossessed and Ludovic Blas scored from the resulting counter-attack which included a slip from Danilo.
Bianconeri coach Massimiliano Allegri took the 34-year-old off and the Italian side kept searching for the winner. Nobody came closer than Chiesa though, whose shot bounced off the crossbar and the post, but did not fully cross the goal line.
Juventus thought they were going to be awarded a penalty in stoppage time but the VAR decided there was a push from Bremer on the Nantes defender. With talents like Vlahovic, Chiesa, and Di Maria, the victory should have been sealed much earlier.
Lafont was Nantes’ saving grace
This game could have ended in defeat for Nantes if it was not for the performance of their goalkeeper Alban Lafont. The 24-year-old made several impressive saves and he had to be more attentive than usual when his teammate Andrei Girotto came close to scoring an own goal.
Lafont was quite raw when he played at Fiorentina in 2018/19. Despite being a good shot-stopper and comfortable with the ball at his feet, he was prone to the odd error and he returned to Ligue 1.
This performance against Juventus showed that he has matured since that spell in Tuscany and he can be a reliable goalkeeper.