Early dominance from Bayern Munich gave way to Juventus making an incredible comeback at home, with the match finishing 2-2 after the Italians came back from a two-goal deficit in arguably the most exciting match so far in the Champions League round of 16.
The first half was a cagey battle between two very tactically driven teams, with each trying to find any weakness or exploit in the other that they could. As you would expect, Bayern dominated possession, with their entire back line often pushing up to the halfway line or even past it while the Germans worked the ball around to probe at Juventus' determined defense.
Juventus' chances to break forward were obviously limited, but they weren't without their opportunities. Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio helped launch a few effective counters, but a poor finish from Mario Mandzukic and a wonderful defensive effort from Juan Bernat stopped their two best chances.
The Italians would rue those missed opportunities when Bayern finally capitalized on one of their own at the end of the half. Douglas Costa received a cross at the far post and tried to turn it back for Robert Lewandowski, but the ball was deflected away from the Polish striker -- and straight to Thomas Müller, who made up for an earlier finishing gaffe by easily slotting the ball home past Gianluigi Buffon to give Bayern a well-earned lead.
The second half started poorly for Juventus, with Claudio Marchisio removed from the match in favor of the much-shakier Hernanes, a move that quickly and negatively impacted the bianconeri's ability to defend against Bayern's onslaught. Sure enough, it took just 10 minutes for Bayern to find a way through, with Arjen Robben flying through the lines, cutting in onto his left foot, and slamming the ball home. Juventus protested because they felt Leonardo Bonucci had been fouled in the buildup, but English referee Martin Atkinson wasn't having any of it.
Despite the seeming bloodbath that was coming their way, Juventus responded magnificently, playing more urgently and breaking forward with more pace than they had earlier in the match. That quickly paid dividends, as just after the hour mark Paulo Dybala was finally rewarded for making the same run and finding the same space he'd been doing all night long, with Mario Mandzukic getting just enough of a pass off in his general direction for the Argentine to take and hammer it home.
That kicked off a brief spell of dominance from Juventus, flying forward and generating dangerous chance after dangerous chance that tested Bayern's defense and Manuel Neuer fiercely. Tensions started to flare, as evidenced by a confrontation between Mandzukic and Lewandowski, but Bayern seemed to be weathering the storm and starting getting forward again themselves.
Juventus still had another big counter left in them, though, and they caught Bayern in a bad moment. Pep Guardiola had just made a defensive substitution, taking off left back Juan Bernat for center back Mehdi Benatia, and moving David Alaba from central defense to Bernat's former spot on the left. That created an inevitable few moments of confusion while everyone sorted themselves out -- and Juventus pounced, countering hard and sending a runner from midfield right at a shaky and uncertain Joshua Kimmich. That runner was Stefano Sturaro, and he beat Kimmich to a cross from Alvaro Morata and poked the ball home to bring Juventus level.
That set off a desperate finish to the match, with both teams pressing hard for another goal to break the deadlock. That goal wouldn't come, though not for lack of trying. Now, though, we're set up for a dramatic high-stakes match in Munich for the second and deciding leg of the tie. Will Bayern use home soil to put the tie away? Can Juventus do enough to get the two away goals they need to nullify Bayern's advantage? We'll have to wait and see, but if the second leg is anywhere near as good as the first, we'll be in for a treat.
Juventus: Gianluigi Buffon; Patrice Evra, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli, Stephan Lichtsteiner; Paul Pogba, Sami Khedira (Stefano Sturaro 69'), Claudio Marchisio (Hernanes 46'), Juan Cuadrado; Paulo Dybala (Alvaro Morata 74'), Mario Mandzukic
Goals: Dybala (63'), Sturaro (76')
Bayern Munich: Manuel Neuer; Juan Bernat (Mehdi Benatia 74'), David Alaba, Joshua Kimmich, Philipp Lahm; Arturo Vidal, Thiago Alcantara; Douglas Costa (Franck Ribery 84'), Thomas Müller, Arjen Robben; Robert Lewandowski
Goals: Müller (43'), Robben (55')
Three things we learned
Pep Guardiola is still the most effective crazy manager ever
Sure his hand was forced by injuries, but starting a fullback and a short defensive midfielder as your centerbacks against a team you know will start two of Paulo Dybala, Alvaro Morata, or Mario Mandzukic up top is still a little nuts. But you know what? Guardiola and Bayern made it work, with David Alaba doing most of the hard work in the back and Kimmich looking to play a simpler game based on denying space. Helped with Arturo Vidal shielding play a bit in front of them in midfield, Bayern still managed to do an excellent job blunting Juventus' dangerous attack despite their rather unorthodox defensive lineup.
Juventus' response was incredible
When Arjen Robben scored in the 55th minute, it looked like it was all over for Juventus. They were down two goals at home and were struggling to create chances for themselves, and it looked like there was no way back for them in the tie. Instead of dropping their heads, though, Juventus cranked up the aggression in their play, and it worked magnificently. They stunned Bayern with their first goal, then caught them again while they were still reeling. That was a true showing of just how good Juventus can be -- no team in Europe is safe for them when they're on their game.
This tie is still wide open
Bayern may hold a big advantage with two away goals, but Juventus have proved time and again the last couple of years that they're not afraid to play their way on the road in Europe. They've come away with a few big results that way, and them scoring two away goals of their own in Munich is certainly not out of the question. This tie is far from over, and absolutely anything can still happen.