Juventus is heading to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League after an impressive performance at Camp Nou on Wednesday. They were able to follow up their 3-0 win in the first leg with a fantastic defensive performance, drawing 0-0 in the second leg to knock Barcelona out of the competition.
Things almost started poorly for the Bianconeri, though, when Dani Alves was bizarrely not ready to start the match. He was taking care of an equipment issue when the whistle blew and his team was under pressure when he rushed back onto the pitch.
Barca got off to an excellent start, producing five shots from inside the box in the first 20 minutes. It appeared that a goal was inevitable. But Juve’s defense settled in after that, and the Blaugrana’s attack was worse over the final 70 minutes than it was over that opening spell. The central defensive tandem of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini had one of their best games of the season, and looked like an impenetrable wall in front of Gianluigi Buffon. While the legendary goalkeeper had to come up with some heroics in the first leg, he had little to do in Catalonia.
The biggest event of the game was in the 64th minute, when Sami Khedira picked up a yellow card that will see him suspended for the first leg of the semifinal. Otherwise, everything went according to plan for Juventus, who never truly looked like conceding in the second half.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Alba, Umtiti, Pique, Roberto (Mascherano 78’), Busquets, Rakitic (Alcacer 58’), Iniesta, Neymar, Suarez, Messi
Juventus: Buffon, Sandro, Chiellini, Bonucci, Alves, Pjanic, Khedira, Mandzukic, Dybala (Barzagli 75’), Cuadrado (Lemina 84’), Higuain (Asamoah 88’)
1. Combination of bad shooting and good defense sunk Barca
Barcelona had a high volume of shots, and they weren’t necessarily bad ones, but Juventus took away the most dangerous scoring opportunities. While Barca were unlucky to only get one of their 19 shots on target, very few of those shots were uncontested or lightly contested ones from central areas in the box. The Juve defense was willing to let Barca play, but unwilling to concede the most dangerous spots on the pitch, and that strategy worked.
2. If Juventus wins Champions League, it’ll be because of Leo Bonucci
The biggest reason that Barcelona was unable to generate truly dangerous scoring chances was the play of Bonucci. His 10 clearances led all players, and he chipped in with five tackles, four interceptions, and a blocked shot.
3. Barcelona is at a crossroads like they were in 2013
There is not something horribly wrong with Barcelona because they lost to Juventus in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. But much like when they lost 7-0 to Bayern Munich four years ago, it’s time for a slight rethinking. They’ll be hiring a new manager this summer, and they need one that has a few more tactical ideas than Luis Enrique. He hasn’t had much success when he’s strayed away from Plan A, and he opted not to make adjustments during Wednesday’s game. Barcelona needs fresh ideas to get the most out of Lionel Messi before he starts a major decline.