Roberto Mancini relied on defensive blunders from Juventus to secure an unlikely point in Turin on his debut as Galatasaray manager. In his first post since being dismissed by Manchester City last May, the Italian was up against former player Carlos Tévez in a crucial Champions League encounter.
Mancini admitted talks with Gala progressed rapidly as he signed a three-year deal on Monday, succeeding legendary coach Fatih Terim after he rejected a contract extension. Results had taken a turn for the worse since the 60-year-old was appointed interim Turkey boss in August. A humiliating 6-1 defeat at home to Real Madrid coupled with a lethargic start to the Süper Lig season was not what was expected. His final game at the helm against Beşiktaş was marred by a pitch invasion.
“I want to progress with the good things Terim implemented,” detailed Mancini ahead of his debut in the new hotseat. “I know the foreign players better than the Turkish ones, but with time I will get to know them all. To start winning we must first sweat.” The former Internazionale tactician also had a moment to mention his reunion with Tévez: “I am very happy to meet him again. We share an extraordinary relationship, as we won three competitions together at City, which is not a minor thing.”
The Bianconeri likewise went into the match off the back of a mixed start to the new campaign. Antonio Conte’s men have been far from convincing in the opening phases of the season despite sitting joint-second in Serie A alongside Napoli. Several controversial refereeing decisions and Andrea Pirlo’s form have dominated the news in Turin. Conte has resorted to benching the playmaker – evening introducing a rule stating that substituted players must take a seat on the bench after the 34-year-old despondently marched down the tunnel when hauled off in a narrow victory over Hellas Verona.
Mancini’s first major move was to exclude Burak Yılmaz, who netted eight times in the Champions League last term, from the starting line-up. Instead the Italian tactician favoured a lone frontman in Didier Drogba with Wesley Sneijder roaming in behind. Felipe Melo also started against his former club.
Pirlo slotted back into midfield for Juventus, with Claudio Marchisio on the bench after returning from a knee injury against bitter local rivals Torino on Saturday. Tévez started in attack despite serious concerns over his ankle after a highly contentious tackle from Ciro Immobile in the Derby della Mole.
Juventus had conceded first in all of their previous five matches - including a humbling 1-1 draw with Copenhagen in their opening Group B game. This encounter was to prove no different. Shortly after the half-hour mark Drogba clinically pounced on a defensive error from Leonardo Bonucci, before sidestepping Gianluigi Buffon and prodding home. Bonucci admitted prior to kick-off that he regularly takes risks with passing, having established himself as a crucial facet of distribution from the back.
Conte was forced to replace Mirko Vučinić with Fabio Quagliarella early on after the Montenegrin suffered a muscle injury. Neither side seized the initiative before the interval, but the home team did have the lion’s share of possession. Galatasaray held firm in the face of Juventus’s menacing midfield runners with Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba the prime focal points in the middle of the park.
Mancini allowed the Bianconeri to push further forward in search of an equaliser by taking Sneijder and Albert Riera off late in the second half. The hosts could not conjure up clear-cut chances despite Conte throwing on the much-debated Fernando Llorente in place of Bonucci. Their pressure forced a debatable penalty with a quarter of an hour to play, however, when Quagliarella ran into Noureddine Amrabat in the box. Mancini let out a wry smile at the decision as Vidal confidently swept it past Fernando Muslera.
Pirlo was anonymous throughout the tie with a streak of pedestrian passes but out of the blue he elegantly setup Quagliarella to give Juventus the lead with a thumping header ten minutes later. The Bianconeri faithful were still celebrating when Mauricio Isla allowed Umut Bulut to seal a shock turnaround by striding in at the back post and scoring to level the match with two minutes of normal time remaining.
“I do not think this is Juventus at there very best, it was a strange game altogether with the penalty but an important result in all for us,” concluded a satisfied Mancini in his post-match press conference. “In my first two days I have just tried to learn a few names and mainly attempt to restore a bit of order.”