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Barcelona produced a mesmerising display to defeat Paris Saint-Germain in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 and need more of the same if they are to beat Juventus and qualify for the semi-final.
Juventus have taken complete control of this Champions League tie, having won the first leg 3-0 in Turin. Two goals inside 22 minutes by Juventus forward Paulo Dybala gave Juventus the perfect start and Barcelona never looked like coming back.
Even in the second half, knowing they needed to score an away goal to give themselves a chance of turning things round in the Camp Nou, Barcelona did not offer enough of a threat. Having wasted their best chances earlier in the game, Luis Enrique’s team failed to find the back of the net and Giorgio Chiellini pounced on 55 minutes to head home from a corner and send the Juventus Stadium wild.
The first leg worked out perfectly for Juventus. Not only do they have a three-goal lead to defend in Barcelona but they stopped Lionel Messi and co from getting an away goal, which could prove invaluable. If Juventus were to score at the Camp Nou, Barcelona’s task would become incredibly tough.
However, one glance at Barcelona’s home form in the Champions League and you can see why their fans believe their team has a glimmer of hope. Trends show Barcelona are unbeaten in their previous twenty home Champions League games, winning nineteen and drawing one. It’s a fantastic record and one they will be clinging onto ahead of this match.
In seven of their previous ten home Champions League games, Barcelona have produced a result which would be enough to either win the tie overall or take into extra-time. All four of their most recent Champions League results in the Camp Nou have been good enough to win this tie and send the Spanish champions into the semi-final. Opposition in those four games were Celtic, Manchester City, Borussia Monchengladbach and Paris Saint-Germain.
Juventus travel to Catalunya unbeaten in their last nine Champions League games. The Italian giants have won all four of their away Champions League matches this season and if you take one glance at their impressive history in the competition, you will see why they must be considered favourites to progress.
Even if you go back to the terrible Champions League campaign of 2000/01, when Juventus were eliminated at the first group stage of the tournament, the Old Lady did not suffer an away defeat which would be big enough to see them eliminated from the competition this season. Not once in 17 years of competition have Juventus lost by 3 goals or more away from home in the Champions League.
Looking at the team news and the return of Sergio Busquets is a huge boost for Barcelona, who will need his protection in midfield as they surge forward looking for goals. Enrique may turn to the same starting XI which performed miracles against PSG in the previous round.
Max Allegri is sweating on the fitness of Dybala, who was forced off injured in Serie A on the weekend. However, the Argentine should be OK to start the match and Juventus may go in with the same team which took the field last week in Turin.
This is going to be a hugely exciting match. Juventus will be banking on their experienced Italian defenders and goalkeeper to see out the match but with Gonzalo Higuain and Dybala in attack, have more than enough to score a crucial away goal. It will be close on the night but that’s all Juventus need to get through and Barcelona will struggle to replicate their famous night against PSG.