Reinvigorated Juventus side sees past Tottenham in ICC tie

Both teams fielded a mix of first-team, fringe players and youngsters during their ICC friendly tie in which Juve’s energy gave them the edge.

MELBOURNE, Australia — Paulo Dybala, Miralem Pjanic and Co. gave Tottenham a timely reminder of what the club can expect in the Champions League as Juventus won 2-1 on Tuesday.

Juventus’ fluid 4-3-3 formation caused Tottenham plenty of problems in the International Champions Cup (ICC) match at the MCG, with Dybala and Mehdi Benatia scoring the goals to clinch victory.

Wearing its new blue away kit, Juventus was transformed compared to the pedestrian side that donned the traditional black-and-white stripes against Melbourne Victory on Saturday.

Juve had looked disinterested and rusty versus Victory as it lost in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw.

But Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri’s prediction of an increase in intensity was proved accurate thanks to the inclusion of Pjanic, Benatia and Roberto Pereyra.

Pereyra’s pressing led to Dybala’s opening goal in the sixth minute, while Pjanic linked up with fellow debutant Benatia to double Juve’s lead before the quarter-hour mark.

Analyzing preseason friendlies is often a difficult exercise. Teams can be in different phases of preparation when they play each other, while massed substitutions and missing first-teamers can make most conclusions feeble at best.

But although both Juve and Spurs were missing large groups of first-team regulars in Melbourne, there were indications Tottenham may need to be a bit smarter on the continent this season.

Tottenham’s trip to Australia will be a good opportunity for Mauricio Pochettino’s men to measure themselves ahead of their return to the Champions League.

Spurs’ two ICC opponents – Juve and Atletico Madrid – have much greater recent Champions League experience.

Since Tottenham last played in Europe’s premier club competition in 2010-11, Juve has played in four straight Champions League campaigns, qualifying for the 2014-15 final.

Atletico Madrid has competed in the last three Champions League campaigns, qualifying for two finals, plus it won the 2011-12 Europa League.

Juve’s movement and pressing were key to their dominant first half, with Dybala and Pjanic frequently dropping deep to start attacks.

In defense, Dybala and Pjanic were part of a front three with Pereyra.

But when Juve won the ball, Dybala would regularly take up more of a classic No. 10 position and Pjanic often appeared alongside holding midfielder Hernanes.

Pereyra, Mario Lemina and Alex Sandro provided attacking runs from deep.

Juve’s first goal came when Pereyra won possession in his attacking half, surged forward and then fed Dybala on the edge of the box.

Benatia’s goal was due to Tottenham’s inability to clear a corner, with Pjanic collecting the loose ball and dinking his cross to the back post for the centre-back to head home.

Spurs improved in the second half thanks to the inclusion of Erik Lamela, who scored their goal, but Pochettino has some work to do before the Champions League begins in September.

Pochettino’s two recruits – Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen – made starting debuts in Melbourne, with the former notching an assist for Lamela’s goal.

The original version of this story which was published by Serie A can be viewed here.

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