If you knock down Goliath -- if you have him on the ground and defenseless -- you must sever his head. Juventus are no David, and there was no divine assistance in their game against Bayern Munich. These were two giants at war, yet the rule still remained: finish your opponent, lest you be made to regret your benevolence.
With Juve's foot on Bayern's neck, up 2-0 towards the end of the first half, Pep Guardiola began masterminding his team's eventual comeback. The hosts had struggled to create chances, so he added an extra body in the middle. Franck Ribéry, left winger, moved into the center of midfield, with David Alaba pushing further up to take up his former position.
The resurrection began with a minor twitch, Bayern shifting shape in order to escape the death-clutch. Ribéry received the ball on the right wing after a Stephan Lichtsteiner handball, then Juan Cuadrado stepped up. Ribéry turned back and played the ball to Joshua Kimmich in the center, then, rather than going back out to the wing, he sauntered into the midfield. He then turned around and gave Alaba a signal to push up in his place.
Ribéry's slide to center flooded the midfield in Bayern's favor. When he received a layoff from Arturo Vidal less than a minute later, he was in line with Xabi Alonso. Ribéry then sent the ball out to Douglas Costa on the right wing. He ran forward into space but made sure to sit beneath Vidal, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller. Seconds later he checked back down to lay it off to Alonso. As his teammates moved the ball around, Ribéry drifted unnoticed behind Juve defenders.
A few passes later, the ball made its way to the feet of Douglas Costa. He cut inside, as he's wont to do, then rifled a shot towards goal. Leonardo Bonucci was there to head away. It came out to Alaba, the new right winger. Alaba sent it to Ribéry in the center and he quickly passed it to Costa, who had also stayed in the center.
Costa then clipped the ball over the defense to Lewandowski, who shot straight at Gianluigi Buffon. The veteran keeper parried the ball but it went to Müller, who, in typical fashion, was at the right place again. This time, however, he was caught off-guard by the save and headed wide.
Within a few minutes, the change in Bayern's midfield resulted in two clear chances at goal, probably their best openings up to that point. It was a clear warning to Juve that their enemy was still immensely dangerous.
The Italians took the warning to heart. At the cusp of halftime they created an opportunity that nearly changed their ultimate fate.
Buffon took a free kick from inside his box, but the ball was contested in the middle and eventually squirted out to the left, where four players battled for it. Patrice Evra won the physical test and, in a moment of brilliance, played a through pass beyond three ball-watching Bayern players to send Paul Pogba beyond the defense.
Pogba drove into the box. Then he cut back to beat the recovering Medhi Benatia and sent the ball across the face of goal. Álvaro Morata failed to meet it in the middle. Cuadrado, who had made a late run to the back post, did manage to get to it, but the extra time allowed Manuel Neuer to get into position to block the shot. Had Cuadrado shot a little higher or passed it back to Morata, Juventus would have had a sure goal. It would have been the dagger to end Bayern's Champions League hopes. Instead, the shock of that missed blow gave life to Bayern's resurgence.
In the second half, Kingsley Coman was brought on.
This gave Bayern an attacking lineup consisting of Coman, Ribéry, Lewandowski, Müller and Costa. It was a full-out assault. The chances came quick and fast, and while the finishes were lacking, dread hung over the visiting defense. They would score. It was only a matter of time.
Juve were tired. They had chased the ball all game. Bayern, sensing this fatigue, pressured the Italians and sat inside their half.
Then in the 73rd minute, Coman saved a cross-field ball from going out by the right corner flag. He then played it back to Costa. Costa whipped it into the back of the box. Lewandwoski was there to meet it and head past Buffon.
Bayern champed at the bit. Juve had made them aware of their own fragility with two perfect counterattacking goals and they were keen to return the favor, though in their own unique manner of suffocating their opponents to submission.
But then came reprieve. As Bayern pressured, the clock nonchalantly ticked on. The game would end whether they wanted it to or not. It almost did. For a second or three, Juve seemed saved.
But Bayern, the great conquerors, probe and slash until the end, until an official certification of death is issued. And they also punish any mistake, no matter how late, severely.
In the 90th minute, Juve were dealt the inevitable blow. Bayern scored again, this time on a goal created by two former Juve players who left for Bayern this summer. Vidal dispossessed a tired Evra at the top of the box. He then passed wide right to Coman. The winger crossed it to the far post and Müller was yet again at the right place at the right time, and buried the header.
Bayern in full flow are devastating, but they'd not been able to reach those heights against a stalwart defense. Their virility was reconfirmed by the goal, and Müller celebrated as such, screaming and flexing every muscle in his body in a war cry aimed at opponents who had now become prey. Buffon, in an effort to fight against the clear change of momentum, frantically gestured to his players to fight back.
In extra time, Bayern's embarrassment of riches gleamed. Thiago Alcântara was introduced. Within 10 minutes of his introduction, he put Bayern ahead. It was now time for the Guardiola's men to hold the sword at the neck of the Italian giants. Bayern doesn't hesitate. They were ruthless.
It was Coman who ended up with Juve blood on his hands, a fitting portrait of a great betrayal.
Pogba was dispossessed in Bayern's final third. It quickly became a counterattack. The ball came out to Coman on the right side, Juve's players were far too tired at this stage. The winger sprinted from the Bayern half and reached Juve's box with only three touches and no one near him. He cut inside to his left foot and curled it beyond Buffon. Bonucci, who was closest, had no energy left to step and block the shot. He held his hands behind his back and stuck a foot out, but he might as well have bared his throat instead.
Juventus were defeated, head severed and on display for Bayern's next opponents. It was a stirring comeback for the Bavarians, but for the losers it was a lesson learned in the harshest and most heartbreaking fashion: do not hesitate to kill off your opponents. For when they recover, there will be no mercy shown.