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Three things learned: Tottenham v. Juve

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LONDON — Tottenham Hotspur blew it on the big stage as they crumbled at home in the UEFA Champions League and lost 2-1 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate against Juventus.

Heung-Min Son put Tottenham ahead in the first half but two goals in three minutes in the second half from Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala stopped Spurs in their tracks as their dreams of a place in the Champions League last eight were dashed.

It wasn’t to be as Gianluigi Buffon and Co. were the team celebrating at the final whistle as Harry Kane and Spurs stood with their hands on their hips and were left devastated.

Here’s what we learned from a dramatic night at Wembley.


TOTTENHAM NOT READY FOR THE BIG TIME

Let’s get this straight, Juventus were made to look very ordinary for vast swathes of the two legs. A win would have been a huge statement by Tottenham but they crumbled when it mattered most.

83 percent of teams to have drawn 2-2 away in the first leg of a UCL knockout tie have progressed to the next stage. Not Spurs.

So much has been talked about Tottenham’s potential to dine at the Premier League’s top table, let alone Europe’s, but those questions will now remain.

Pochettino has cultivated a young, hungry squad over the past three years and their progress is clear for all to see. Third and second place finishes in the Premier League in the past two seasons prove that, even if there’s no silverware in the trophy cabinet to back up the brilliance of Kane, Eriksen, Alli and Co.

But this was a seminal moment in Spurs’ present, it was meant to be a momentous leap forward for a club which has taken huge strides forwards on and off the pitch in recent years.

Reports about Kane, Alli and even Pochettino leaving will now be rife with Tottenham unable to match the wages of England and Europe’s elite. Their project is genuinely exciting but once again they have come up short. They shouldn’t have.

Tottenham should have been in the last eight of the Champions League for just the second time in club history. Pochettino should have led Spurs into uncharted territory and that should have been enough to keep their stars together for at least another season.

Now, it seems like all of that is in jeopardy once again.


JUVENTUS’ EXPERIENCE SHOWS

This is a team who have been in two of the last three UEFA Champions League finals. They have won the Italian title six years on the spin.

Never write off Juventus.

As soon as Higuain hooked home brilliantly to make it 1-1 on the night and 3-3 on aggregate, he punched his fists in the air and screamed back at Juve’s goalkeeper and inspirational leader Gigi Buffon. That was the goal they needed.

They never looked back and three minute later Dybala was given the freedom of Wembley to race through and slot home the killer second goal. All of this came after Max Allegri’s tactical switch to bring on Stephan Lichtsteiner for Mehdi Benatia and shifting veteran defender Andrea Barzagli to center back, as Juve swung the game in their favor in the matter of 189 seconds.

In truth, Allegri made a mistake by placing Barzagli, 37, at right back for the injured Mattia Di Sciglio as he was roasted by Son on several occasions, but he put it right superbly and Juve never looked back.

Over the 180 minutes of this encounter, Juventus had dominated about 20 minutes of the action. In those 20 minutes they scored four goals and missed one glorious chance in the first leg. They weren’t going to make that same mistake again.

Giorgio Chiellini put his body on the line late on as the Spurs onslaught came. His last-ditch tackle to deny Tottenham a tap in was greeted by Buffon grabbing him by the scruff his neck and screaming with delight in his face. Kane’s header hitting the post and staying out late on was the luck they needed and they dug deep to make the last eight. Experience counts for a lot in these moments. Juve had it. Spurs didn’t.


SON DANGEROUS BUT NOT RED-HOT

He could have had a hat trick in the first half alone and he had five decent chances but scored just once.

The South Korean star has been in red-hot form for Spurs, scoring five goals in his last three games in all competitions and he tormented Juve’s right back Andrea Barzagli, who stepped in for the injured Mattia De Sciglio.

Spurs constantly looked out to the left flank in the first half to isolate Barzagli and it worked. Son had a shot across goal which Buffon pushed out, another he somehow dragged wide and then he put another agonizingly wide late on.

On another night Son could have wrapped this tie up by half time but his costly misses, coupled with quiet nights for Kane and Eriksen, compounded Tottenham’s miserable exit from Europe.

La Liga: Real Madrid disappoint in home draw with Valladolid

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Real Madrid 1-1 Real Valladolid

With Barcelona losing on the season’s opening day, and now Real Madrid dropping points on Saturday to the side that finished 16th last season, the 2019 La Liga title race appears to be wide open.

Karim Benzema put Real Madrid 1-0 up after 82 minutes, and Los Blancos appeared to have avoided a disappointing start to their home campaign. However, Sergi Guardiola (no relation to Pep) had other ideas when he bagged an unlikely equalizer in the 88th minute.

Eden Hazard remained out with a thigh injury and the $113-million Belgian isn’t expected to make his Madrid debut until after the season’s international break which takes place the first full weekend of September. James Rodriguez made his return to Real Madrid after two seasons on loan to Bayern Munich, but the Colombian was subbed off after 57 minutes to be replaced by Vinicius Junior.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Celta Vigo 1-0 Valencia
Getafe 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
Osasuna 0-0 Eibar

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Mallorca v. Real Sociedad — 11 a.m. ET
Alaves v. Espanyol — 11 a.m. ET
Leganes v. Atletico Madrid — 1 p.m. ET
Barcelona v. Real Betis — 3 p.m. ET

Serie A: Juventus edge past Parma; Napoli-Fiorentina thriller (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Parma 0-1 Juventus

Juventus’ quest to win a ninth straight Serie A title began with a win away to Parma on Saturday, but only just barely. Giorgio Chiellini scored the game’s only goal in the 21st minute, redirecting Alex Sandro’s half-volley past the goalkeeper after a corner kick wasn’t fully cleared. The victory sets Maurizio Sarri‘s side (Sarri wasn’t in charge of the team on Saturday as he continues to recover from pneumonia) on its way in a season that figures to feature multiple challengers to the throne, with Napoli and Inter Milan each strengthening their squads considerably in the summer. Sarri will also miss out on next weekend’s heavyweight clash between Juve and last season’s runners-up Napoli at Allianz Stadium.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal taken off the board after the video-assistant referee picked up on the narrowest of offside calls.

$85-million center back Matthijs de Ligt was named to the bench, where he remained for the entirety of 90 minutes, with veterans Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci preferred to the 20-year-old. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon joined De Ligt on the bench in his return to Juve after spending last season at Paris Saint-Germain.

Fiorentina 3-4 Napoli

Napoli’s 4-3 victory over Fiorentina was a truly wild ride. There is no other way to describe it.

Napoli went from a goal down inside the first 10 minutes, to 2-1 up just before halftime, level at 2-2 in the 52nd minute, 3-2 ahead just four minutes later, level at 3-3 in the 65th, and finally 4-3 ahead just two minutes later.

Dries Mertens (38th), Lorenzo Insigne (43rd and 67th) and Jose Callejon (56th) got the goals for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Hirving Lozano, who joined Napoli for $44 million on Friday, wasn’t yet available to make his debut but will only add another level of quality to what has proven to be an already impressive attacking unit.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Udinese v. AC Milan — 12 p.m. ET
Roma v. Genoa — 2:45 p.m. ET
Sampdoria v. Lazio — 2:45 p.m. ET
Cagliari v. Brescia — 2:45 p.m. ET
Verona v. Bologna — 2:45 p.m. ET
SPAL v. Atalanta — 2:45 p.m. ET
Torino v. Sassuolo — 2:45 p.m. ET

Messi to miss Barcelona’s next game; Suarez, Dembele also out

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi has been left out of Barcelona’s squad to face Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday.

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Messi returned to training this week after recovering from a right calf injury picked up in preseason, but the Argentina star was not included in the list of players available for the team’s home opener at Camp Nou Stadium.

He missed the team’s 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the league opener last weekend.

Coach Ernesto Valverde is also without forwards Luiz Suarez and Ousmane Dembele because of injuries.

Klopp preens after Liverpool win: ‘Our identity is intensity’

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Liverpool and Arsenal entertained on Saturday, with the Reds earning a deserved 3-1 win and keeping the Gunners off-kilter for most of the day.

Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds pushed the tempo for much of the match and overcame some wobbly moments at the back to cruise to the win.

[ MORE: Liverpool-Arsenal recap | 3 things ]

They were tough, fiery, and deserved every bit of the win. And Klopp knows it, and knows that you know it. From the BBC:

“Our identity is intensity, and we showed that today. … We were a bit surprised by their system. We couldn’t know that they would play a diamond, but we switched things around and coped very well.

“The last 10 minutes I saw the possession – 53 to 47 or something like that – but over 80 minutes it must have been completely different. For 80 minutes we were completely in charge of the game. We are not Disneyland, we do not need to excite everyone in every second.”

This guy is an absolute beauty. Even those who despise him have to admit that we are lucky to have him.

Klopp’s men lapsed late and allowed a Lucas Torreira goal. The defense has been wobbly over the first three weeks of the season, and preseason was just as rough. Klopp would’ve loved a clean sheet for the first time since the first week of preseason, but he’s happy with the performance.

“I would have loved to have it, but things can happen. They’re a quality side, Arsenal. I didn’t see that many chances, but we were really in charge today and completely deserved the win.”

Liverpool is off to Burnley next, and then will enjoy the international break.