BLOG ESPANA
Tuesday April 11 2017
Where Juve-Barca will be won and lost

Juventus-Barcelona brings together the Champions League’s best attack and best defence but, as Marco Gallerani writes, there will be key duels all over the pitch.

Juventus-Barcelona marks the coming-together of two different football philosophies – the best attack in this season’s Champions League against the best defence.

Barca have already scored 26 goals in the Champions League, but they’ll have a tougher time at Juventus Stadium against the Bianconeri’s defensive wall, which has conceded just two goals in their previous eight games on the continent.

Luis Enrique also needs to reflect on some issues regarding his squad. The main problem is the absence of Sergio Busquets, who will serve a one-match ban.

Furthermore, Neymar, Gerard Pique and Ivan Rakitic are all a booking away from a suspension, while Juve have just Juan Cuadrado walking on the same tightrope.

The two teams will differ in their approach to the game. Despite playing on home soil, Max Allegri’s players will certainly cede possession to the Catalans.

While the Italians will need to do what they can in order to contain the terrific threesome of Messi, Suarez and Neymar, the Blaugrana will face a very different squad to the one they beat 3-1 in the 2015 Final.

Juve’s new 4-2-3-1 formation has given them real balance this term, fusing their attacking prowess and solid defence together almost seamlessly, while allowing for greater freedom going forward.

Barca will also line up against an old enemy of theirs in former Real Madrid man Sami Khedira. The German has been in great shape throughout the campaign, and the once injury-prone midfielder has overcome his physical problems by changing his diet.

Another difficult task awaits left-back Jordi Alba, who will find Cuadrado on his side. The Colombia international has played arguably the best football of his career in 2016-17 and has been a key player in several games.

Their biggest source of unpredictability, however, will be Paulo Dybala, who has the freedom to move around the pitch in his new position. The Argentine had some physical problems last month but proved his fitness for Tuesday with a stunning performance against Chievo over the weekend.

However, Barca’s most feared opponent will be the other Argentine, Gonzalo Higuain. The former Madrid striker is on fire at the moment, having scored four goals in his last two games. The affinity between the two Albiceleste stars will be something that the Catalans’ defence looks out for.

As for the Blaugrana, they have struggled to put together a winning run after their epic 6-1 thumping of Paris Saint-Germain. They showed great form at home against Sevilla and Valencia but have failed to do the same on their travels, where they have lost to Deportivo La Coruna and Malaga.

Their major strength is clearly up front as the MSN trio can create problems for defenders even in the ilk of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

Barca will be the second Spanish team faced by Juve this season. Allegri’s side drew 0-0 at home with Sevilla in the group stage and won the reverse fixture 3-1.

In the last eight for a record 10th season in a row, Barca have been knocked out twice in the last three seasons by Atletico Madrid. Other than Diego Simeone’s side, the last team to defeat the Catalans were Juve in 02-03. They’ll be hoping old history stays where it is.

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