In particular, it was clear the Dutch side, with its pinpoint passing exchanges and relentless pressing, had one thing its Turin opponent lacked – an easily identifiable style of play, Reuters reported.
Despite winning a fifth successive Serie A title with Juventus this season, it was no surprise when the club announced on Friday that coach Massimiliano Allegri would leave after this season, one year before the end of his contract.
Allegri, 51, has always said that winning major titles should never be underestimated, yet there was something strangely unsatisfying about this season’s campaign.
There were none of the thrilling displays served up by teams such as Manchester City or Ajax, nor the raw passion of Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool.
Instead, Juve relied on its resilience, flexibility, moments of individual brilliance from five-time World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo and even, sometimes, just a lucky break.
It was enough to win Juve another Italian title – its eighth in a row altogether including Allegri’s five – but not enough to bring the Italian side the Champions League, which was seen as the priority after defeats in the 2015 and 2017 finals.
Juventus also failed to win the Italian Cup this season after Allegri last term became the first manager in Europe’s top five leagues to win four consecutive doubles.
Maybe he was running short of motivation.
When a team dominates its national league in the way Juve has done and set the Champions League as the main target, it means the season does not effectively begin until February when the knockout stages of the European competition get underway.
Anything before that – establishing a lead at the top of the league and getting through the Champions League group stage – becomes an obligation rather than a challenge.
Italian daily newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport suggested that Allegri also wanted more control over the club’s transfer policy.
Juventus splurged more than €250 million (£219.30 million) in the transfer market in the close season, yet more of that went on its reserve goalkeeper, Mattia Perin, than improving the midfield.
In attack, Ronaldo cost €117 million and winger Douglas Costa another €40 million, while at the back €40 million went on right back Joao Cancelo and €35 million on bringing back central defender Leonardo Bonucci from AC Milan.
But the midfield was not strengthened, and it showed on the pitch with too much sterile possession.
When Allegri took over five years ago, his midfield included Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba.
Today, it is still an impressive lineup – Miralem Pjanic, Rodrigo Bentancur, Emre Can and Blaise Matuidi have all played for their countries. But it is not quite enough for a team with Champions League title ambitions.
Critics said that Allegri was also partly to blame, as his constant chopping and changing may have prevented the players from developing a true understanding.
Allegri’s first words after the announcement were to an Italian comedy program.
“It took five years to build this Juve, but that’s that. Life goes around,” he said.
“I’m going home now, then I’ll have a little break by the sea. I don’t know who will follow me but Juve will choose a great coach because Juventus is a great club.”