Barcelona have the unenviable task of scoring a minimum of three goals against one of the best defensive sides in Europe.
Chiranjib: 3-0, Barcelona win in extra-time.
The Catalans have been inconsistent as of late. They have won three of their last five games, but lost to both Juventus in the last leg as well as Malaga in the league. The loss in the first leg gave a sense of déjà vu for los cules due to the similarities it had with the first leg against PSG. Barcelona have all the work to do.
The Bianconeri are in better form than the Blaugrana, but they have only won three out of their last five games due to a loss against in the Coppa Italia against Napoli as well as a draw in the league against the same opponents.
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Barcelona have a few players out due to injury. Arda Turan still hasn’t recovered, so he is unavailable along with long-term absentees Aleix Vidal and Rafinha. Javier Mascherano is available after having calf issues recently, so the defence is strengthened by his return. Also, Sergio Busquets returns after being suspended for the first leg, which is a huge boost for the team. Jérémy Mathieu has been left out the squad, while Carles Aleñá has been called up to the team.
Juventus have a few injuries to deal with as well. Moise Kean and Marko Pjaca are both unavailable. Paulo Dybala is able to play, though, after worries over a knock he picked up against Pescara, which is great news for the Italians due to the creativity he brings to the team.
Recent history is limited because there have only been four competitive games in this fixture in the last fifteen years. Juventus have the advantage due to winning two games including the latest one. However, Barcelona’s sole win comes in the biggest game between the two, which was a 3-1 victory in the 2015 Champions League final.
Both managers have made their plans for this match very clear. Luis Enrique has made attacking the key theme in his press conferences. Whereas, Max Allegri made his intentions clear when he rested his entire defence against Pescara aside from Leonardo Bonucci who was already suspended.
La Vecchia Signora are one of the strongest defensive teams in Europe due to the quality and experience they have, which will help them deal with the mental pressure of such a big game. They have a team that is set up to counter-attack because they have Dani Alves and Alex Sandro in the full-back roles who are able to quickly transition up the pitch alongside Gonzalo Higuaín, Juan Cuadrado and Dybala.
The main danger is Dybala due to his mix of lethal finishing and ability to thread through key passes, which could easily cut through a stretched Barcelona defence. Limiting service to him and pressing whenever he has the ball is key to curbing his influence on the match.
If Barça go through then it will be down to the individual performances of either Lionel Messi or Neymar. In the last match, Messi was exceptional but his teammates couldn’t finish the excellent chances that he created. The Catalans need him to step up again, and they also need Neymar to replicate his amazing performance against PSG.
The defence is key as well because conceding an away goal makes their task a lot harder, so keeping a clean sheet is important. Busquets is a huge boost here due to his composure, intelligence, and ability to control matches. If he can control the middle of the pitch then Barcelona have a much higher chance of going through.
This is a much harder task than the PSG game due to the experience of the opposition, and the Barça defence has conceded seven goals in the last three matches, so they are likely to concede again. Therefore, the most likely result is a Barcelona win due to the strength of the attack, but it’s unlikely to be enough to qualify, so 3-1 is a likely result.
Sergi Roberto instead of Paco Alcácer is a possibility.