Match Review Champions League

Juventus 3-0 Barcelona Champions League Match Report and Player Ratings

April 12, 2017 - 12:25 pm

juventus

Juventus 3-0 Barcelona

Goals: Dybala 7, 22 (J), Chiellini 55 (J)


Paulo Dybala and Alex Sandro stole the show as Juventus routed Barcelona in a 3-0 first-leg victory in the Champions League quarter finals

The game started at a frantic pace, at least for the home side, for we were berserker from the  whistle. First to every challenge, flooding forward in numbers and really should have taken the lead on merely 2’ when Higuain placed a free header straight at Stegen. It came as no surprise when we opened the scoring; Cuadrado dancing into the box playing a short ball to Dybala who turned and shot in one sumptuous motion, finding the corner of the net. Nothing more than we deserved for approaching the game on the front foot. All fangs bared and eyes blazing with welcome fury.

Barca tried to get back into the game, and were thwarted with a sublime save from the evergreen Santo Buffon as Messi found Iniesta in the box and his first time effort was superbly tipped wide by the veteran. Soon after we went straight up the other end to make it 2-0, Higuain, driving forward, finding Mandzukic who rolled the ball into the path of the onrushing Dybala, to this time strike first time a gorgeous drive curled into the far corner. Leaving the much vaunted Stegen appearing rather ordinary in comparison to his counterpart at the opposite end of the field.

We maintained control and composure despite sitting deep, defending in numbers and waiting for opportunities to strike on the counter. Though to be fair, we did find a resurgence in the visiting side after the break as they reverted to a more comfortable 4-3-3 bringing on a player we were mightily interested in previously, Andrea Gomes. Who proved lame.

Whilst they did produce more pressure, there were very few clear cut chances forged, such was our formidable focus and zeal.

Just shy of the hour mark, Pjanic played a delightful corner into the box and Kaiser Chellini was on hand to muscle out the dwarf Mascherano to direct a towering header into the corner for 3-0.

Suarez found one glaring opportunity to pull one back, which again was saved by an uncompromising Buffon, though in turn, we created chances for Higuain, Khedira and had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside.

On the balance of chances and command of the game, we merited the commendable victory. Which stands us in decent stead for the return fixture.

The result was a testament to the diligence and guile of Max Allegri, and as I mentioned in the preview, the timing of things appeared to be perfect. On many levels, for we have not only revived the key players since the New Year, but also found a formation which often brings out the best of our collective talent. The Napoli ties were just what was required to practice game management, achieve our aims, without throwing everything on the line. A solid showing against a resolute Chievo to calm the nerves and we approached this game in splendid condition both physically and mentally, and it showed.

Of the starting XI, every player was in the least competent and driven, if not playing near to their capacity, but we can play better. It is difficult to string passes together against sides of a high technical prowess, experienced players who hound for the ball and are all comfortable in possession. And so rather than try to play Barca at their own game, we forced them to try play us at our game. Which did not work out well for the Catalans…

To keep that trident attack so quiet, limit them to just the two very presentable openings, confirms the strength of our defence and organisational nous. We should have won by more goals, Higuain was guilty of a couple of misses and the disallowed Cuardrado effort was a bother, yet 3-0 is a good result, against a team capable of dominating most other sides in the world, on their day. In terms of whether we will suffer the same fate as PSG, I have no such concerns. We are a side who rarely concedes, let alone concedes 3 or more. There is good reason why we have seen but two goals in 9 games at the top level of european football fly past Gianluigi. And if we can keep everyone who played last night fit, there is no reason to head to Spain expecting anything other than another victory, or at worst a draw.

I believe we will score in the return fixture as we are not a side who shrink terribly into our shell when playing away in Europe. We have perhaps more desire than our opponents, certainly the confidence, and the players will be already desperate for the opening whistle to find their ears next week.

Yes, it is important to note Allegro’s words…

“We are midway through because there are 45 days to the end of the season. Right now we haven’t won the Scudetto, Coppa Italia or reached the Champions League semi-final,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“What tonight’s game must do is give us more confidence and awareness of what this squad can achieve.

“It’s right to be happy with what we’ve done, but also to keep our feet on the ground and a sense of balance, as we’ve achieved nothing yet.”

We were a little hard done by the officials. Not just with the disallowed goal, but also with bookings for Khedira and Mandzukic. However, the Polaks were at least fairly even when it came to the other pivotal moments. The tackle which led to a chance for Messi correctly ruled offside…the potential handball call when from close range, the strike hit Chiellini’s chest then hand as he mauled Juan’s thigh. Great decisions from the officials. We cannot expect them to get everything right, but on this occasion they got enough right.

My only grumble can be that the strength in depth was lacking. Lemina and Rincon were both at best ineffective, at worst woeful, after joining the fray. Allegri is a strange chap. For I would have preferred to see Sturaro come on in place of either. Firstly, as he is a more accomplished, especially at this level, combative midfielder than Rincon. Secondly, he has been recently asked to play in the Mandzukic role, which could easily be transplanted to the other flank, at least by my reckoning. Regardless, I continue to place my total trust in Max.

The positives begin with the scoreline. I cannot see us conceding 3 or more goals to any team in the world, other than Bayern. I also feel we will score in Catalonia. It was of vital importance to keep the clean sheet, avoid any away goals. A healthy lead with a clean sheet is the very best we could have hoped for, other than a headbutt of Messi or Suarez, which we got away with…hohoho!

Alves did very well indeed, pretty much kept his compatriot in his pocket. Chellini rekindled his warrior spirit. Leo kept calm and typically physical. Sandro showed once again he is arguably to become the strongest LB in the game. Pjanic did little, but what he did, he did very well indeed. Big Sami was monstrous. Higuain worked like a trojan. Mandzukic a cunning brute with Cuadrado finding two assists and Dybala a couple of sweet strikes. What more could we ask for? It was a very solid team performance in every area of the field. We attacked and defended as a team.

I was immediately appalled by Enrique, for clapping Iniesta’s foul which led to the opening goal. Also by Messi, who with the first challenge he received, asked for a booking for the opponent. Suarez appeared different. Less whining, and despite his lack of chances, did not resort to thuggery. Perhaps he realised there was nothing to be gained by such awfulness. The Polaks don’t pay homage to fops or whining spite merchants. I was pleased we had them officiating, despite the mistakes which went against us.

There remains much to do. Again I return to my mention of timing, which matters in football as it matters in life. For we have Pescara at the weekend, not Napoli or Roma. A chance to continue our march towards a historic 6th straight scudetto, rest a few key players and perform below top gear.

What Allegri has done with this squad is nothing short of amazing. We have the mentality of champions, are well aware of our strengths and weaknesses, and are able to manage games carefully and confidently. This is down to the coach.

I haven’t yet peeked at Rav’s ratings, yet will offer my own, albeit more briefly than usual-

Buffon 8, Bonucci 7, Chiellini 8, Alves 7, Sandro 7, Khedira 7, Pjanic 6.5, Cuadrado 7, Dybala 9, Higuaín 6.5, Mandzukic 7.5.

We are stronger than Barcelona. The potential of this squad is moving closer to fruition at just the right period of the season. Everything remains to play for.

A job well done.

Forza Juve

TGP

 

LINEUPS:

Juventus: Buffon; Dani Alves, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic (Barzagli 89); Cuadrado (Lemina 73), Dybala (Rincon 81), Mandzukic; Higuain

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Pique, Umtiti, Mathieu; Mascherano, Rakitic, Iniesta, Messi; Sergi Roberto, Suarez, Neymar

Ref: Marciniak (POL)


Player Ratings

BUFFON: There are those games, week in, week out where Juve dominate and Buffon may be called into action on a rare occasion to remind us of his brilliance. Then there are those nights when you know the entire team will be up against it, and having the greatest keeper in the world available to call on, can make all the difference…..and what a difference he made. The save on Iniesta should really be considered as a good as a goal in itself. It looked certain to be heading in, and yet Gigi managed to perform the impossible. Keeping a clean sheet in a two-legged tie like this can be the difference between qualifying and saying ‘there’s always next year’. He marshalled his defence like it mattered, barking orders, positioning himself perfectly for every Barca attack. A majestic display 9.0

DANI ALVES: European nights are a reminder why we invested in the veteran full-back. He was wiley, determined and cunning, putting his knowledge of his former club to great use. Committed some rash tackles and the early booking put the whole result at risk, but he reigned in his aggression and played with real intelligence from there on out. 7.0

BONUCCI: One mistake aside, he was solid and controlled and barely gave Suarez a sniff at goal. There was a brilliant two footed tackle to deny Neymar and some great work on (and off) the ball, playing it out from the back. Great reading of the game throughout. 7.0

CHIELLINI: He may have suffered from his fair share of injuries in recent times, but nights like this are when Giorgio excels. He reads the game, the striker’s intent, and always manages to stay a step ahead. He was a giant, making perfectly timed tackles and interceptions and scored the third goal, despite having Mascherano climbing all over him. Titan. 8.0

ALEX SANDRO: Dybala may have scored the goals, but Alex Sandro was the player who truly arrived tonight. The prospect of facing Lionel Messi is a daunting one, and yet Sandro controlled the left flank with one of the best displays of his Juve career. There were accusations made, early on, that he was too attacking and neglected his defensive duties, but he’s come on leaps and bounds in this part of his game. He tracked back at every opportunity, closing down attack after attack and bringing the ball out with real intelligence and composure.   8.0

PJANIC: One of his best displays in recent months. He’s been a little too passive and anonymous, and yet he imposed himself on this game from the start. Far more physical, he didn’t allow himself to be bullied off the ball. Played perfectly in tandem with Sami Khedira and helped launch attacks from the centre of the pitch. Provided the cross for Chiellini’s goal and was back to his best. 7.0

KHEDIRA: Another powerhouse performance in the centre of the pitch. Worked from end to end, helping to support the attack and move the team forward as well as shielding the back 4 and making some good tackles to slow down the Barca momentum. 7.0

CUADRADO: Pushed forward at every chance, exploiting Barca’s weakest link. Has a good understanding with Alves and used his pace to run the channels effectively. Played his part in the opening goal, setting up Dybala. Much improved. 7.0

MANDZUKIC: A tireless performance, doing so much of the dirty work down the left, tracking back to defend and nullify Messi’s efforts, springing forward to support the attack and provide an outlet down the channel. Did his share of the tackling, working as a LB, LM, LW, all rolled into one.  6.5

DYBALA: As we saw from the games against Napoli and Chievo over the last week, Dybala was finding his feet as the creative force in the team….but this was something else altogether. The main accusation I would level at La Joya, is that he was too passive at times, unable to impose his play on the game. How wrong i was. His display was a masterclass, utterly clinical and ruthless, finishing off Barca with two pinpoint strikes, the first of which, was curled so perfectly it reminded of a former Juve no.10 from years gone by. Dybala was quick and efficient, dropping deep when required and running through the Barca midfield to spearhead the counter attack. Majestic. 9.0

HIGUAIN: The same accusations will be levelled at Pipa after a performance like this, and yet he was at the heart of the Juve attack, pulling the Barca defence left and right, creating the space for Dybala to operate in. Granted, he had 2 very clear cut chances that he should have buried and those may yet come back to haunt us, but his contribution can’t be discounted in a game where Juve alternated between being passive and aggressive throughout the 90 mins. 7.0

Substitutes:

LEMINA: A brief cameo on the left, helping to balance out the team and see out the result, late on. Steadied the midfield and kept the right flank quiet. 6.0

RINCON: N/A

BARZAGLI: N/A


Goals

 

 

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  • thegutterpoet
    thegutterpoet April 12, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Rav, my friend, I enjoy the combination of our similar, yet at times slightly divergent views. We must move to the podcast! I suspect we would garner a decent audience. Many thanks as always for offering me this platform, which is a joy to share alongside a fellow juventino whose heart beats in black and white…

    • Avatar
      Basim Khan April 12, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      There would be at least one man in the audience for that podcast ; ).

      • Avatar
        BelgianJuventino April 12, 2017 at 7:57 pm

        Make that two!

    • Avatar
      Moderator April 12, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      It’s my pleasure comrade, i couldn;t do it without you – As for the Podcast, we must find a time and date to make this happen. IT’s a must!

      • Avatar
        Dar Black April 12, 2017 at 8:13 pm

        Youtube it, record a Skype vid link ☺️

  • Avatar
    Chad Allegro April 12, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Should have had 4, but many refs would have given a penalty for Chiellini’s hand so I call it even. Masterclass by Allegri.

  • Avatar
    Storm April 12, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    What a great analysis and spot on.

    I am still lost for words, or actually, I have to many praises to each an everyone involved. The ref is human and will get micrometer-decisions wrong, but most important we stand strong for the second leg.

    While I enjoy the game and all it involves, I can stubble over small thinks that makes me feel that football is more than a game, last night it was the replay of a hug between Chiellini and Saurez. It was a small unimportant moment, but something that together with the rest made my evening.

    We need a live countdown clock for the next match……I can barely wait

  • Avatar
    Moderator April 12, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    There was so much to take from this match, and yet i’m always wary, much like the players, of getting too carries away until the jobs done – Despite that, it was one of the best Juventus displays in Europe that i’ve ever seen. It’s as if we finally broke through some kind of barrier that has existed since we beat Real Madrid way back in 2002. That was the last time i felt we were on par with all around us – Even against Bayern and Barca the year before, there was a hesitance to feel that we belonged in and amongst them – of course, we had the talent and skill, the players, the manager….and we still lacked a little something – the mentality? the depth in the squad? the ruthless streak required?

    Last night was a vindication of sorts, of the money spent, the change of tactics by Allegri, the approach, the approach to our play…..so much worked !
    There was something telling in an interview with Montero (which i translated but failed to add to the site) – He suggested that individually, Barcelona were superior, however, the collective Juve team could beat them for that exact reason: That they were a team – Sure enough, it was the collective that got the result last night – Dybala’s brilliance came as a result of having the space to work in because of Higuain harrasing Umtiti and Pique – Cudarado targetting Mahieu and La Joya did the rest. All over the pitch, we fought together – Sandro and Mandzukic working in tandem to reduce the worlds best player to little more than a cameo.

    This is how we can win the elusive CL and see out the season – Keep working as a team, never switch off and keep working for one another.

    Congratulations all ! What a night !

    • Avatar
      Dar Black April 12, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      Yes, we must not get carried away. We repeat everything again for the 2nd match. Anything else will put us in trouble. If we give MSN a chance to score 4 goals they will. But I have faith in Allegri.

  • Avatar
    BelgianJuventino April 12, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Great read guys, love the duo work here! For me, the man of the match is.. Juventus! It really was a team effort. The obvious pick would be Dybala for his brace, yet I would name Sandro. He had Messi in his pocket and was still able to defend and attack with the rest of the squad.

    Yet there just wasnt anyone who I think we can criticise for anything but details.

    On a sidenote, I hope this result gains Allegri more trust from the Juvefans who were/are still seeking for his exit. He is one of the best coaches we can wish for.

    And on a final note, Mandzukic has more than vindicated himself in this game and in recent months! Forza Mario and Forza Allegri for using him so goddamn well

    • Avatar
      JuveMarchisio April 13, 2017 at 10:15 am

      Amen to that! Sandro was really a hurricane on the leftside! Really Worldclass

  • Avatar
    JuveMarchisio April 13, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Great performance and no reason to be negative but the substitutions of great Max, I didn’t grab, hope to see more of Rugani, Marchisio, Asamoah (even for Mandzukic) and less of Lemina, Rincon, Barzagli (sorry old soldier)

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet April 13, 2017 at 10:28 am

      I am always looking at the the performance in the entirety, JM. It was the biggest club game for both the players I mentioned, and nerves likely played a part as well as the level of opposition. They will be better for the experience.

      I have not seen enough of Rincon to truly feel confident rating him and as for Lemina, we are yet to deploy him in a position he is comfortable to play and can show his best. I do however see the grit in the former and the flashes of lovely ball control, fleeting as they are with the latter.

      • Avatar
        JuveMarchisio April 13, 2017 at 10:39 am

        I understand, I’m just remarking that I rather see giving Asamoah a go as sub for Mandzukic than Rincon or Sturaro. Like I rather see Lichtsteiner and Alves teaming up the right flank, than Lemina on that position. I’ll think next transferperiod we ‘ll see some new players for those positions. all though it’ll have to be an Arabian racing horse, speedy and with a lot of endurance, like Cuadrado. not always fan of him like everyone else, but he seems to be the right profile to do that job and you never know what he is going to do. I think he himselves doesn’t know. Meaning no lightweight winger but someone who really can bully the flank and set his foot.

        • Avatar
          Xx RForcE xX April 14, 2017 at 10:08 am

          i guess Allegri was looking forward and will deploy the players you mentioned over the weekend.Marchisio, Asa, Lichty, Rugani,Stura…Plenty of games ahead of us.

          • Avatar
            JuveMarchisio April 14, 2017 at 10:14 am

            FORZA JUVE … hope this team stick’s together for some years … new JUVE era in EUROPE (Dybala, Rugani, Sandro, Pjaca (still like him very much)) should stay for many many years

      • Avatar
        ho Hi April 13, 2017 at 6:48 pm

        Hey Gutter,
        Do you know whos the ref at Camp nou?

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet April 17, 2017 at 10:45 am

          Bjorn Kuipers, my friend…

          • Avatar
            ho Hi April 17, 2017 at 11:07 am

            Thanks mate. Cant wait for it.