La Liga giants Barcelona will be hosted by reigning Serie A champions Juventus tonight at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.
The first tie ended with Juventus being thrashed 3-0 at the Nou Camp. Lionel Messi got a brace and Ivan Rakitic chipped in with a goal of his own As things stand, Barcelona are the the top of Group D with 10 points, with Juventus in behind them with 7.
The Blaugrana have been in stunning form this season and are still unbeaten across all competitions and they lead the La Liga with a 4 point lead at the top. Juventus on the other hand, haven’t been their usual dominant self and are currently placed third in the Serie A, 4 points being League leaders Napoli.
Both sides were restricted to draws in the last Champions League matches. Barcelona were stopped in a shock 0-0 draw at Olympiakos while Portuguese giants Sporting CP restricted the Serie A Champions to a 1-1 draw in Lisbon.
Team News & Tactics
The Serie A giants were without some big names in the reverse leg, but Massimiliano Allegri has most of his key players now so he will be able to field a full strength starting XI. A number of key players were rested during their defeat against Sampdoria as well, and they will likely be reintroduced tonight.
Gianluigi Buffon is expected to return to the starting XI ahead of Wojciech Szczesny, while defenders Daniele Rugani and Kwadwo Asamoah are expected to make way for Alex Sandro and Andrea Barzagli to come into left back and centre-back respectively.
Blaise Matuidi is expected to come into the starting XI ahead of Sami Khedira, while Mario Mandzukic is expected to hold onto his place on the left wing. Juan Cuadrado should come in on the right with the irreplaceable Paulo Dybala setting up shop behind Gonzalo Higuain.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gianluigi Buffon; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Blaise Matuidi, Miralem Pjanic; Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic; Gonzalo Higuain
Ernesto Valverde has a number of injuries in his squad, but none of them are regular first team players so the Spaniard wouldn’t be too worried. Ousmane Dembélé, Rafinha, Arda Turan, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes and Javier Mascherano are all set to miss this tonight’s big clash.
The Blaugrana are expected to field the exact same starting XI that was deployed in the 0:3 victory over Leganes on Saturday. Ter Stegen in goal, with Nelson Semedo, Samuel Umtiti, Gerard Pique(who returns after his 1 match suspension) and Jordi Alba will likely make up the defence.
Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic are front runners for the 3 places in midfield while Luis Suarez, who ended his goalscoring drought with a brace on Saturday, is expected to lead the line alongside Messi and an in-form Paco Alcacer.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Marc Andre ter Stegen; Nelson Semedo, Samuel Umtiti, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta; Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Paco Alcacer
- The Champions League record between these two sides currently stands at 3 wins for Juventus, 2 draws and 3 wins for Barcelona.
- In that time, Barcelona have scored 13 goals against Juventus, while conceding 10.
- Juventus have lost only 2 out of their 25 Champions League games at the Allianz Stadium.
- Barcelona have not beaten Juventus in Turin, managing 2 draws and suffering defeat on 3 occasions.
- Barcelona’s record against Italian teams in Italy stands at 6 wins, 9 draws and 6 losses.
Player To Watch
The Argentine almost singlehandedly took Juventus apart in the first leg and hasn’t slowed down since. Messi has already scored 16 goals this season and registered 5 assists in all competitions. In 4 matches against the Bianconeri, he has registered 4 goals and an assist and in this kind of form, he is definitely the one to watch out for at the Allianz Stadium.
Juventus 1-1 Barcelona
We predict a hard fought draw at the Allianz Stadium tonight. Juventus have the backing of recent history, their home fans and a fitter squad. They would have learnt from the mistakes of the reverse leg and will surely be out for redemption.
The Catalans won’t make it easy of course, but Juventus will be absolutely desperate to try and get a positive result after their terrible showing last week against Sampdoria and what better way to build confidence than by putting up a solid performance against Barcelona? However it remains to be seen whether Allegri’s men are able to stop the visitors for the first time this season.