Juventus v Barcelona
Champions League | Group D | Game 5 – Wednesday, 22nd November – 19:45 GMT – Juventus Stadium
Juventus come into this match on the back of a poor performance against Sampdoria, losing 3-2 away from home, but more important was the manner of the loss. Despite dominating the match for the first 45 mins, once again they failed to kill off the game with a number of first-half chances and were duly punished by Samp side that deserved victory.
It seems to be a symptom of Juve’s problems this season – They play well to begin with, dominate early on or even score, get overrun in midfield, make elementary mistakes and the defence invariably switches off and we gift chances to our opponents. Of course, we have to respect the teams that have beaten us and give them their due credit, but we have handed victory to the opposition on more than one occasion.
Heading into this match we know that a victory will guarantee us a place in the last 16, the only thing standing in our way is a Barcelona side that is undefeated all season long, only dropping points twice in all competitions. It’s an impressive and intimidating prospect, but when we stay focused for the full 90 minutes, we’ve shown that we’re capable of the kind of performance needed to get a win in a game of this magnitude.
The biggest concerns around the side seem to stem from the midfield and defence. Sami Khedira doesn’t seem to have the legs to carry us through from start to finish and his tendency to drift in and out of games has a detrimental impact on Miralem Pjanic. There’s a suggestion that Max Allegri will switch to 4-3-3/4-3-2-1 for this one, with Blaise Matuidi entering the mix to give us more bite in midfield. The mister suggested as much in his pre-game presser:
“Tomorrow the tactical system will depend on how we move in defence and attack…[against Sampdoria] Khedira made too many runs forward when we went a goal behind and he left Miralem Pjanic isolated. Tomorrow I must decide whether to play Mario Mandzukic, Blaise Matuidi or Douglas Costa. Federico Bernardeschi is injured, Dybala will start tomorrow.”
At this stage, we need a top performance from Dybala as he has dipped in and out of form since that stellar start to the season. In the opening games of the new campaign, he was deciding matches himself, seemingly taking on a new level responsibility within the team but a string of poor displays and some strange comments in an interview with France Football may cast a few doubts on where his head is at right now.
The lineup should really write itself but players like Daniele Rugani, Claudio Marchisio and Douglas Costa look set to be omitted from the starting XI yet again. Gigi Buffon was rested against Sampdoria so he will return in goal with Mattia De Sciglio, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Alex Sandro in front of him. Pjanic, Khedira and Matuidi will make up with the midfield with Juan Cuadrado, Gonzalo Higuain and Dybala leading the attack.
4-3-3: Buffon; De Sciglio, Barzagli, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Cuadrado, Dybala, Higuain.
Bernardeschi (muscle), Pjaca (Returning to match fitness)
4-3-3: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Alcacer
Rafinha, Dembele, Mascherano, Roberto