Barcelona were left needing another ‘remontada’ as Paulo Dybala’s brace fired Juventus to a 3-0 victory in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Sergio Busquets’ one-match ban saw Javier Mascherano partner Ivan Rakitic in the middle of the park, leaving Luis Enrique with no choice but to field Jeremy Mathieu in central defence, despite the Frenchman’s poor performance against Malaga on Saturday.
Juve, on the other hand, went all out for home advantage, fielding four attackers, among them reported Blaugrana target Paulo Dybala. Dani Alves, arguably the best right-back in the Catalans’ history, also started for the Old Lady.
The last team to beat Barca at this stage other than Atletico Madrid were Juve in the 2002-03 campaign, although they did beat the Italians to win the Champions League two years ago.
The Bianconeri started on the front foot as a free kick was whipped into Barca’s penalty area for Gonzalo Higuain, but the former Real Madrid striker headed straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who spilled before catching.
Just eight minutes in, and Dybala showed Barca what they were missing by turning on a sixpence in the Catalans’ box and curling the ball into the bottom-left corner of Ter Stegen’s net.
Moments after Gianluigi Buffon denied Andres Iniesta from point-blank range after Lionel Messi’s FIFA-esque through ball, Mario Mandzukic led a Juve counter down the right and cut the ball back for Dybala to bend in first time.
Barca thought they pulled a goal back when ex-Madrid man Sami Khedira was dispossessed near the Juve box by Messi, but despite going on to score from a yard out, Luis Suarez was offside when receiving the Argentine’s initial pass.
Back at the other end, Higuain hit a first-time volley on target and Ter Stegen was lucky to see his hand on the shot fall straight to a Barca shirt, before the striker came a whisker away from heading in Khedira’s cross-shot.
Barca switched Mathieu with Andre Gomes for the second half, which began with the ball dropping straight to Messi just inside the Juve box, but the No 10 was put off at the last second and his shot ended up veering wide.
The Catalans began pushing very hard for an away goal, Andres Iniesta fizzing a half-volley inches over Buffon’s goal, but Juve bit back quickly as Khedira pinged a first-time shot that curled inches over Ter Stegen’s top-right corner.
A minute after Higuain sprung Barca’s awful offside trap and failed to beat Ter Stegen one-on-one, Giorgio Chiellini rose above Mascherano from a corner and powered a header, which went in off the post.
Messi slipped Suarez in behind, who had just Buffon to beat, but the Uruguayan’s finish across the goalkeeper was crucially deflected the wrong side of the far post.
Barca were unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty, when Neymar’s shot clearly hit Chiellini’s extended arm in the Juve box, only for the referee to wave play on.
The Brazilian thought he had scored, even looking to the skies in celebration, with 10 minutes remaining after he side-footed from close range, but his effort was blocked in the nick of time. Messi’s cross then flew inches above the head of an unmarked Samuel Umtiti.
Juventus 3-0 Barcelona
Dybala 7, 22, Chiellini 55
Juventus: Buffon; Alves, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic (Barzagli 89); Cuadrado (Lemina 73), Dybala (Rincon 81), Mandzukic; Higuain
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Pique, Umtiti, Mathieu (Gomes 46); Sergi, Rakitic, Mascherano, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Ref: Marciniak (POL)