Juventus showed off their own strengths as well as the deficiencies of Barcelona last night.
They have not lost at home in the Champions’ League in four years, and have won every game that they have played at home in Serie A this season. It should therefore not be a surprise that Juventus were able to beat a Barcelona side that have now lost four of its last six matches on the road.
The size of the victory, 3-0, was surprising and though we saw in the last round how this side can make amazing comebacks (and they have an aggregate score of 21-1 from their four home games in Europe this season), this may well be one comeback too far.
These two sides of course met two years ago in the Champions League final in Berlin, with the Catalans coming out on top, but the Italians are a far better outfit this time round. The formidable backline is still there, helmed by Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci (with Andrea Barzagli to come off the bench), but in attack, they are full of threat, and none more so than Paulo Dybala, who showed his class on one of the biggest stages of all, against one of the biggest names in football. Moreover, this win was Juventus showing to the world how much they have improved in the last couple of years, and are not only the equals of Barcelona, but superior to them.
Dybala’s two goals showcased the appalling defending that Barcelona seem to be practicing these days, as he was given a massive amount of space to turn and score for the first goal, before, once again, being given the same gift on the second. On each occasion, there were plenty of men back, but they were marking space, not men. Some of the players in that backline looked completely lost, most notably the fullbacks, Sergi Roberto and the pretty lamentable Jeremy Mathieu.
Time and time again, Juan Cuadrado was able to make hay against the Frenchman, and it was no surprise that he was hauled off at halftime. As good as they are going forward, the defensive issues that were shown up in Paris were again on display. Putting it simply, this defence is not good enough for a club of Barcelona’s stature, and it will cost them dearly this season.
Paris Saint-Germain showed how you should not play at the Nou Camp, more or less just sitting back and waiting for their opponents to come and do their worst, which they duly did. During the final 20-25 minutes of last night’s game, the home side did somewhat fall back into that, instead of pushing on for a fourth goal and almost conceded a pretty important away goal.
They got away with it though, but they should be wary of falling back on that tactic too much. This Juventus side is better than that and last night showed that they can quite easily score against a pretty shambolic defence.