Juventus outclassed Barcelona at Camp Nou and restricted them to a goalless draw, thus qualifying to the semi-finals on the basis of aggregate goals
The Italian club put up one of the most stunning defensive performances ever. The entire course of match saw an extremely frustrated Barcelona side trying to break through Juventus’ defence. Despite enjoying a healthy possession rate, Barcelona could only send two shots on target during the match. Juventus outplayed them on every level, and that is something even Barcelona would have to admit.
The first-leg saw a splendid attacking performance from the same side, and this just goes to show how Juventus’ strength lies in their versatility. The sign of a good club is their adaptability – how they can change or tweak their performances to suit what’s needed and work as a team. And Juventus did exactly that in both matches.
Juventus started on a bright note, however, at one point it almost seemed like Barcelona might take over. Neymar was rather influential for the Spanish giants. Lionel Messi seemed a bit subdued, and he failed to impress much. It would seem like a deeper role is really not suiting him.
What Juventus deserves the most credit for is how they made a Champions League away quarter-final look like it meant nothing. They knew they had a strong advantage of 3-0 goals from the first leg, and they brilliantly capitalised on the same. They also successfully maintained clean sheets against Barcelona in both the encounters.
Here are the five talking points from the game:
Barcelona need to analyse and work on an overhaul of their team
When it comes to talking about comebacks, Barcelona pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, and after the first leg at Juventus, that was expected from them yet again.
However, that itself might have created extremely unrealistic expectations which built up immense pressure upon the Spanish club, leading to a collapse. Against PSG, Barcelona were the perfect picture of calm and composed as they notched up a heroic comeback.
Last night though, Barcelona came up against a far more resolute and defensively strong Juventus side, meaning they could not repeat the PSG debacle at the Camp Nou, as the Italians pulled off a defensive masterclass to reach the semi-finals.
As a club, it would seem as though Barcelona are on some sort of a decline. With seven goals conceded in their last two Champions League away matches, it’s obvious that Barcelona are struggling, and perhaps it seems a lot more obvious in the Champions League than it does in the La Liga.
Barcelona have always built and maintained high standards by the way they employ tactics and their play. At this moment, it does seem like they have too many inept players in midfield and defence. Even the world-class attacking combo of Messi, Suarez and Neymar failed to impress as they were rendered speechless by a resilient defensive performance spearheaded by Giorgio Chiellini and his team.
Messi needs to move out of his current deep role
Lionel Messi seems he’s been struggling a bit lately, and even in last night’s match, he failed to impress. The Argentine player is at his lethal best when he plays in the attacking areas, however, last night, he started the a game in a more central role.
The only way Barcelona could’ve possibly staged a comeback in this game is if they managed to get in a couple of early goals to offset Juventus’ aggregate lead. Messi, unfortunately, spent the entire first half instead occupying most of the middle of Juventus’ half.
As a playmaker and creator, Messi is still one of the best. However, this new role even downplayed the efforts of Ivan Rakitic and the player almost looked clueless most of the time.
Although Messi’s role sort of created an imbalance in the side for majority of the first half, he did move a bit forward after half time. It did look like Barcelona had better chances to score then, but thanks to the concrete defence by Juventus, their goal was impenetrable.
Can Juventus actually win the Champions League this season?
Juventus will either face Atletico Madrid, Monaco or Real Madrid in the semi-final, and honestly speaking, all four teams deserve a spot up there. But can Juventus convert their performances into the big win?
They will most certainly face tougher challenges against Monaco and Real Madrid since both teams attack with greater tenacity than Barcelona. Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, are known to put up defensively strong performances as well.
Compared to the other three clubs, Juventus may seem like an outsider. However, with the way they outclassed Barcelona in both legs, none of these clubs would actually enjoy the thought of facing Juventus.
While Barcelona boasts of attacking trio Messi, Neymar and Suarez, Juventus boasts of a defence quadruplet comprising of Dani Alves, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Alex Sandro. Despite being the top-scorers in all of Europe, Barcelona (143 goals in all competitions so far) failed to land more than two shots on target in 90 minutes of play.
Currently, three men in defence is considered the latest trend, and it just goes to show how Juventus is working with a four-man defence, and exactly how deadly it can be.
Gianluigi Buffon might finally win his UEFA Champions League medal
Considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all times, Buffon boasts of an envious record. 9 time Serie A champion, 3 Coppa Italia trophies and 1 UEFA Cup – but no Champions League trophy! Could this be the season where it changes for him?
In fact, he also upheld another record last night – one where Lionel Messi has never managed to shoot a goal past him.
Buffon does look more determined than ever to get his hands on the coveted medal and trophy. His save against Andre Iniesta in the first leg came at a crucial moment, something that fans and critics alike will remember for a long time. He maintained a clean sheet in both legs against a club that is known for their goal-scoring.
Juventus are more or less 180 minutes away from making the final, and the Italian legend truly does deserve his UEFA Champions League medal at least this time.
The upcoming El Clasico might subject Barcelona to another whitewash
As mentioned earlier in this article itself, Barcelona have always been a side which was known for their goal-scoring skills. Yet, for some reason, their performances have been pretty forgetful.
With just a shot or two on target, it just goes to show how even an trio like MSN can falter if they do not work as a team. For a team of Barcelona’s potential, it was just pathetic to watch them squander away chances and it almost felt like they did not even want to put up a fight.
It was evident that the Catalonian giants felt prey to an insane load of pressure, and botched up performances. Messi also looked shaky and wasted chances which he would normally take home.
Real Madrid have been playing incredibly well, most recently against Bayern Munich. While that match had its fair share of controversies, the fact is that Ronaldo and the rest of the team are very much in form, and they might snatch the La Liga trophy away from Barcelona if Luis Enrique’s men do not improve in time.