Juve’s performance in Wednesday’s 3-0 win at Borussia Dortmund was a throwback to the days when Serie A sides dominated the Champions League and suggested they can be serious challengers this year for a trophy that Italian sides have not won since 2010.
Allegri’s team set up an impenetrable barrier in defence, then picked off a dispirited Dortmund with lethal counterattacks as they completed a 5-1 aggregate win in the round of 16 tie.
Allegri, already without playmaker Andrea Pirlo, remained unruffled when Paul Pogba, his other key midfielder, went off injured before the half hour, bringing on defender Andrea Barzagli as he seamlessly switched from a back four to back five.
“This result is the fruit of the work we have all put down together, with the lads and the club,” the phlegmatic Allegri told reporters.
“This is an important result for Italian football…and I believe we have the quality to do even better.”
Yet, when he replaced the fiery Antonio Conte, who had led Juventus to three Serie A titles in as many seasons, Allegri was anything but a unanimous choice.
He had been sacked by AC Milan only six months earlier after a 4-3 defeat at Sassuolo left them languishing 11th in Serie A and around 300 Juventus fans turned up to protest his appointment outside the club’s training ground.
But his results at Juventus, who also lead Serie A by 14 points, appear to have vindicated the view that Allegri was a victim of the rudderless leadership at fallen giants Milan, especially as they have continued to struggle since his departure.
Allegri has replaced Conte’s hell-for-leather approach with a more controlled style, which has served well in Europe where they do not enjoy the same dominance over opponents as in Serie A.
Earlier this month, they gave a similarly controlled performance to draw 1-1 at AS Roma in a top-of-the-table Serie A match.
“I just want to emphasise and offer the highest recognition to our coach Massimiliano Allegri, who was greeted with the utmost scepticism earlier in the season,” said Juventus chief executive Giuseppe Marotta.
“We are leading the league with a great advantage and we have reached the Champions League quarter-finals with great credit: a big round of applause goes to the coach and the team that has done well in following his lead.”
“It was said at the start of the season that Massimiliano had great courage to sit on this bench, but he has also shown great courage in achieving these results.”
“Conte won a lot, and I do not want to start a discussion by making comparisons, but it is also right to recognise this coach.”
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)