Club Features, Features, Q&A

Juventus v Barcelona: Champions League Q&A

April 10, 2017 - 8:49 am

Ahead of the first-leg of Juve’s Champions League matchup with Barcelona, we put your questions to Barcelona blogger and Grup 14 founder, Rafael Hernández – You can follow him here on Twitter.

1. How do you view the Allegri-Enrique tactical matchup, and how do you think Luis Enrique would react to a Mandzukic-Higuain-Dybala-Cuadrado front four?

I don’t expect Luis Enrique to change his tactical setup based on Juventus’ possible formations, it’s not his style, but to stick around with what has been working for his team lately: 3-4-3 with MSN upfront, Umtiti, Piqué and Mascherano at the back, Sergi Roberto dropping to the right to defend when Juventus is on the ball, Iniesta, Rakitic and Busquets (Gomes) in the middle.

Allegri is noticeably more versatile and against Barça he won’t be any different, I expect him to exploit Barça’s weaknesses on the wings, especially the right side, and try to be proactive in possession rather than sitting deep and go for the counter.

2. What/who is the weakest link in the current Barca team?

Currently, Barça’s weak link is the right side; Sergi Roberto continues to struggle as a pseudo-right back and Rakitic still gives the impression of being lost on the middle when in possession, both are also physically demanded a lot by the current setup and Juventus can benefit from it, especially in the final thirty minutes.

3. Where did Juventus rank amongst the 7 possible opponents before the draw, in terms of teams Barcelona wanted to avoid?

Barça players reportedly wanted to avoid both Madrid clubs at all costs, and I’m with them when it comes to Atletico, but thankfully that didn’t come to pass. Player by player, and considering their dominance domestically which allows for more rest and focus on Europe, Juventus and Bayern the toughest matchups.

4. Without Iniesta and Messi, how confident would you be in Barca getting the results vs Juve?

I would be significantly pessimistic, Messi’s importance this season has increased due to the relying on him to create from the midfield, and Iniesta, now that he’s back in form after a few months off, is still the one clutch midfielder the club can rely to make the unlikeliest of things happen.

5. How do you feel about this Barça team compared to two years ago? Is it similar, is it stronger in some areas, weaker in others?

I would say this team is weaker in every regard, except MSN, who are back to their best. Currently both fullbacks, which were key in the treble back in 2015, aren’t at the club (Dani Alves) or barred from starting due to underwhelming performances (Alba); Piqué and Umtiti are a wonderful partnership as a duo at the back, but in our current 3-4-3 all three have to be on point and even if Mascherano can be relied upon, he’s slower and more prone to mistakes; the midfield continues to have issues, from controlling to creating chances.

6. How confident are you in the defence and especially right side? How important do you think the absence of Busquets will be in the first leg?

I’m not confident on the entire right side, it’s our glaring weakness. Busquets’ absence will leave its mark on the first leg, but the team hasn’t relied on him as much as we used to, so I wouldn’t expect it to play that big of a difference.

7. Do you think barca will play with their new 3-4-3 system or the old 4-3-3?

Considering the currently issues, I don’t think it’s possible that Barça will go with anything but 3-4-3.

8. How are confidence levels among the fans ahead of this tie?

The majority of the fanbase are looking forward to the tie with big expectations and the excitement of facing one of Europe’s strongest clubs. The mood ahead of the tie is positive, but cautious and knowing Juventus can knock us out.

10. Do you think Juve’s new formation can hurt Barca?

It’ll give Barça a lot of trouble, but it could also put Juve’s own backline in jeopardy if MSN’s game is on point and the team manages to intensely press for the majority of the match.

11. How will the midfield battle go?

This is where Juventus could win the tie, rather than one of the two matches. Pjanic, Dybala and Khedira are doing better than Barça’s starters, with the Bosnian midfielder being key if Juve are to impose their themselves on the center, Khedira’s physical approach and Dybala’s inventiveness could provide to more trouble than we can deal with, plus I expect Juve’s attackers to help pressing and recovering balls, Higuaín the only one with a complete attacking role.

12. We know the coach is leaving, who else is in the last ride with the club?

Mathieu and Arda Turan will definitely depart the club this summer, the Frenchman is past it and has quickly become a liability, while the Turk hasn’t lived up the expectations and could be lured by China’s millions. Masip could be replaced by a younger goalkeeper at La Masia, Rakitic could be sold to acquire funds for a big signing and possibly Mascherano, if he’ desires a return to River Plate, a lot depends on which trophies are won at the end of the season, the management of the club is extremely reactive.

13. Juve Juve/Barca combined XI and formation ahead of the game?

Buffon – Dani Alves, Piqué, Chiellini, Alex Sandro – Busquets, Pjanic, Messi – Neymar, Suárez, Dybala

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  • Avatar
    Peter April 10, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    You didn’t ask MY question! I guess I have to settle with the combined XI then. 😛

  • thegutterpoet
    thegutterpoet April 11, 2017 at 1:45 am

    My fear is that Allegri will choose Alves and have a 33 year old still recovering ahead of schedule from broken bones, with an axe to grin, a score to settle of a personal nature, playing against a 25 year old world class striker in Neymar, who is in splendid form.

    I would keep Alves well away from our starting XI, especially for the home tie where we have the chance to edge ahead. He simply cannot be trusted defensively, in the most important game of our season.

    If Stephan is selected, I see our chances greatly increase. I would also be suspicious of Allegri noting the ever blossoming form of Marchisio and perhaps deploying him alongside Big Sami, the german is more free with a more defensive option next to him and both players can threaten when heading forward. This would, however, lessen our creativity, yet I do not believe creativity will be our problem in this game. The problem will be containing the triumvirate of swine, none of which I respect as decent souls, yet their cohesion and talent is unquestionable.

    The rest of the side picks itself, especially if Mario is fit.

    With Alves starting we are doomed…with the Swiss Locomotive, I sense a different future entirely.

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      E.Micallef April 11, 2017 at 5:08 am

      Alves knows Neymar. Both of them Linc and Dani could suffer Neymar. I sense the whole difference will be made by Juan Cuadrado and Sami Khedira as well as Pjanic. If they cover up well we are settled. No one no defeneder in the world can go up one against one on Neymar and Messi on their day.

      However swapping sides they are on the same level. In terms of flair they cannot hold up to Dybala and Higuain on their day. The only difference is they are doomed to suffer as their midfield cannot cover most of the time.

      This is a 50 50 tie. No result will put us safe and np result will see us doomed. We have 180 minutes. We must be prepared to suffer as well as to make them suffer. This is a tie you cannot afford to not even for 5 min let your guard down. They will score for sure we have to score more than them. Good Luck will play a role in this too so may all help us.

      Good day i have a lot of tension today.

    • Avatar
      E.Micallef April 11, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      That was my piont today alves knows Neymar and has personality to sell. Now its the time.

      But if you rate give Dani a 9. He was an absolute beast.

      4 games to go.

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    Sebastián Quiceno April 11, 2017 at 2:10 am

    Now that we have Alves I would only take Messi from them. Apart from them no other barcelona player makes the cut here at Juve. Players from spain are all too weak for my liking. I´d take Nedved del Piero every single time above Neymar/Suarez.

    Higuaín/Trezeguet – Del Piero/Dybala
    Nedved – Davids/Vidal – Pirlo/Tacchinardi – Messi/Camoranesi
    Zambrotta/Sandro – Cannavaro/Chiellini – Bonucci/Barzagli Thuram/Alves

    • Avatar
      Gerald Quinn April 11, 2017 at 3:11 am

      Same here! we have a better counter part for each and every one of their players in Defence and Midfield, and even in attack Dybala>Neymar and Higuain ~ Suarez…Messi is the only one we don’t have an equal or better equivalent for, if Cuadrado or Mandzukic are in great form they can reach Neymar and Dybala’s level of importance’ unfortunately they haven’t proved to be consistent

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    Gerald Quinn April 11, 2017 at 3:08 am

    Barcelon are a very weak side now a days their Loss to a weak ManC and a weak PSG proves this, besides taking a glance at their team sheets. This tie is as good as ours if we can just keep it scoreless on the away goals. Winning 1-0,2-0,3-0 will be crucial! winning 2-1 or 3-2 would be very bad for us considering Barca got lucky with the second tie being in spain, where they are sure to score a goal if they need to. FORZA JUVE!!!!!!!!!

  • Avatar
    Francisco Rodriguez April 11, 2017 at 6:30 am

    I’m nervous I’m nervous I’m nervous haha…Excited as well, but I feel the butterflies in my stomach now. I will not be able to get any sleep tonight

  • Avatar
    Storm April 11, 2017 at 7:26 am

    Still a couple of working hours to go and then home to the big screen.

    The feeling of excitement and nervousness mixing is almost unbearable, but I think it all come down to the mental state tonight. We do have the team to beat Barca, but if their offensive forces get a hold of this match I fear that we will spend most of our time dealing with that. I wish for tonight that we can control the game, put fear and nervousness aside, and show Barcelona that we more complete.

    Thinking of the PSG games (I saw neither of them, only highlights afterwards), this PSG win on counterattacks only in the first game? and, in the second lose mostly due to their inability to defend like Italians?

    I am asking because don’t think that our counterattacks are as strong as PSG’s, but on the other hand our defense is mile ahead. So just wanted to hear some thoughts on this matter.

    Anyhow, Forza Juve and may you all have a great game tonight!

    • Avatar
      E.Micallef April 11, 2017 at 7:31 am

      Barcelona were bad in the first leg really bad. It could have ended 7 or 8 easily. Speaking of which in the second leg have not lost their chances they could have been 3 3 easily. We will have our chances. We will suffer they will suffer.

    • Avatar
      Yulio Difelani, R. April 11, 2017 at 9:09 am

      I dont watch the second leg but PSG plays an efficient pressing in the first leg, They don’t sit back and wait for Barca to attack. And Barca’s midfield are just so bad at that game, Rabiot and Verrati really stand out. I think that’s why he mentioned about the importance of Pjanic.

  • Avatar
    Jas April 11, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Getting super nervous and excited for this fixture, it’s like the first time you get a chance with that really hot girl but don’t exactly know what to expect…lol… With that being said, its time to over analyze things like we all tend to do. I’ve seen Barcelona’s last game vs Malaga and man Neymar is a complete idiot sometimes, he is a primitive being in every singe of the word. Very reactionary, doesn’t really think about consequences of his actions. Malage really defended well and sought to hit Barcelona on the counter attack, which is a strategy most teams take. The blueprint for success in my opinion pressing them high and early, really raising the intensity from the get go. Barca’s counter attacks are devastating, Neymar and Suarez are absolute monsters with space to run. Their execution really depends on our game plan today, knowing Allegri that probably means we will play cautious, keep as much possession as possible and try to grind out a narrow victory. The key factor in this game is going to be Pjanic, maybe not so much in the second match but in this one he can be the deciding factor. This is due to Sergio Bousqets being out today, therefore giving Much more room to roam around.I know Dybala is probably the most excited person today, but lets see if all the hype around him comes to light. My guess is that we win 2-1 today,

    • Avatar
      DutchJuventus April 11, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      Juve is my hot girl.. :p

  • Avatar
    Sebastián Quiceno April 11, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Very interesting cross club exchange with the guy. I am surprise he was quite prudent and objective of his Assessment of Barca´s chances against us.

    On another note. We Juve definitely need an ADR at the NYSE. At this time the only way to invest is directly in euros in the Italian exchange. Can anyone please hand this suggestion to A Agnelli? That would instantly enhance our brand image worldwide, especially in the USA.

    I would invest in heartbeat. Make it a small or md cap size stock. Right now the italian stock works like a penny stock. Juve is a 100 yr old business, we need a higehr standing.

  • Avatar
    DutchJuventus April 11, 2017 at 6:53 pm


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    Peter April 11, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    That save, OMG

  • Avatar
    BelgianJuventino April 11, 2017 at 7:34 pm


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    DutchJuventus April 11, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    GIORGIO!! 😀

  • Avatar
    Sebastián Quiceno April 11, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    God is good. Lets make history ragazzi

  • Avatar
    DutchJuventus April 11, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Why did Mandzukic get yellow? I don’t understand.

    • Avatar
      Peter April 11, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      I think he “elbowed” him… Can’t really do anything about it when your opponent’s head is as high as your elbow…

      • Avatar
        DutchJuventus April 11, 2017 at 8:15 pm

        And when you’re falling after being charged like that..

  • Avatar
    Sebastián Quiceno April 11, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Matchday ratings: 10 points x (11+3) players. great performance, this is my Juve, I am proud of you all ragazzi. Thank God, God is good.

  • Avatar
    Xx RForcE xX April 11, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    fuck off haters!doubters&notBelievers 3:0 eat that fuck ya

  • Avatar
    Jas April 11, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Omg I’m getting soooo messed up tonight, RIP liver. This is better than banging olivia munn.

  • Avatar
    Gerald Quinn April 12, 2017 at 12:09 am

    I CALLED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I WAS LIKE “Easy win for us” AND NO ONE BELIEVED ME!
    – won 3-0
    – and controlled the entire game

    • Avatar
      Jas April 12, 2017 at 12:54 am

      The team played one hell of a game, I take back all the shit I said about mandzukic he has more heart then I imagined. Higguain was absolute sh** tonight, slow sluggish just way off honestly. He has a chance to reedem himself but it seemed like his reaction was just so slow on everything not to mentioned the chances he missed. Either way forza Juve!!!

      • Avatar
        Gerald Quinn April 12, 2017 at 1:34 am

        You know what? SAME HERE, Please forgive Mandzukic! :'( I to have been a big critique of Mandzukic and wish that we sell him almost every transfer season, but after his general performance this season, and his performance in this game I TAKE IT ALL BACK! Also my heavy criticism for Allegri at the start of the season.

        I do hope to see a lot of shit being taken back for Cuadrado from Key figures in this blog XD i was about the only one excited we bought him from Chelsea this season, i expected his consistency of performances this season, but apparently it’s a shock to much here and blog writers.

        I liked Higuain’s performance, he didn’t score as expected(by most, not me), but lets be honest here, Higuain came with the reputation of “Disappearing when it counts most” he has done so many many times with AFA; which was one of the reasons why i was completely opposed to buying him, especially for 90M (Sure he may be top scorer in the Italian league, but we didn’t need that we where winning just fine without him, i completely expected this poor goal tally in the UCL and expect it for more UCL’s to come, we needed an Aubumeyang or a Muller someone who can score big in europe). Not Aguero though because he is even worse than Pipita; anyways i got off topic, i liked Higuains performance today because he didn’t score but he did the rest of his job very well, He was an engine up front constantly pressing and pulling defenders out of line, Dybala was so free to be Merciless because of it.

  • Avatar
    Gerald Quinn April 12, 2017 at 1:39 am

    PLEASE FORGIVE ME MANDZUKIC!!! :'( I have been a big critique of
    Mandzukic and wish that we sold him almost every transfer season, but
    after his general performance this season, and his performance in this
    game I TAKE IT ALL BACK! Also my heavy criticism for Allegri at the
    start of the season.

    I do Expect to see a lot of shit being taken
    back(apology comments XD) FROM MANY WHO FREQUENT THIS BLOG, Regarding CUADRADO I was about the only
    one excited we bought him from Chelsea at the start of this season, I think he has proved himself this season and in this game v Barca, Cuadrado was straight FIRE

  • Avatar
    BelgianJuventino April 12, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Still feeling delirious on that result, what a magnificent score.. now we need to make it through to the next round, there is no doubt the return at Camp Nou will be a hard fought game.

  • Avatar
    Xx RForcE xX April 12, 2017 at 7:26 am

    yesterday, it was my name day here in Slovakia and I got the best present ever. 3:0 victory, what a match, it was master piece, we killed them and now lets confirm it next week that we are motherfucking TOP club. Heeeeeell yeaaaaah

    • Avatar
      VonKellef April 12, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      Double congrats in arrear(I think it’s the right term in English =p)

  • Avatar
    Peter April 12, 2017 at 8:58 am

    I’d like to point out, due to the sick events in Dortmund, every football loving person saw our boys demolishing Barca yesterday, as if it was nothing. This is huge!

  • Avatar
    Jas April 12, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Lol google her, wicked hot.

    • Avatar
      Xx RForcE xX April 13, 2017 at 11:30 am

      fuckable lol

  • Avatar
    VonKellef April 14, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    I don’t know man. That’s what I got on google translate =D Anyways double congratulations =)

    • Avatar
      Xx RForcE xX April 16, 2017 at 7:58 am

      thanks mate