Lionel Messi plays for Barcelona, and not for Juventus. That is what made the difference tonight at Camp Nou, where the Bianconeri and the Blaugrana faced each other in their Champions League seasonal debut, only a few months after their last European rendezvous.
Back in April, Juventus had brusquely kicked Messi and friends out of the league in a two-leg Quarter Final round. This time, Barcelona reciprocated their courtesy with a 3-0 win propitiated by their 5-time Golden Ball winner.
The Catalans have been opposed to Juventus so many times in the recent past, that even their supporters have learned how to mock them by now: For the full first half, Barca fans’ chants from the standings were all about “Juventini pieces of sh*t” and “F*ck you Juve,” delivered in perfect Italian.
That it was not going to be a good night for the Zebras, it should have been clear from the very beginning: Somebody must have forgotten to put the sponsor on tonight Bianconeri’s kit. Oh well, let’s place some white patches with it on the shirts…Nobody will actually notice it, right?
Coach Massimiliano Allegri lined up a 4-2-3-1 where former Milan left back Mattia De Sciglio and Uruguayan midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur made their seasonal debut.
Barcelona’s Ernesto Valverde responded with the club’s infamous 4-3-3, featuring newcomers Nelson Semedo on the right back side, and Ousmane Dembélé to join Leo Messi and Luis Suarez on the attacking line.
You might have expected to see the 20-year-old French battling to show that he is actually worth the €105 million he was paid for. Instead, it was just another one-man-show orchestrated by the Argentinian star, with the support of his most seasoned partner – the Italian-eater Suarez: a blitzing one-two combination between the two gave Barcelona the lead just before half time.
Juventus had showed a few good things before Messi reclaimed the spotlight, but la Pulce’s first goal basically put an end to the Bianconeri’s game.
Messi’s first endeavor after the break was a shot that hit the post, quickly followed by a gallop on the right side to serve an assist that Stefano Sturaro could only try to deflect, before Ivan Rakitic put it past Gianluigi Buffon for the 2-0. Then, he took care personally of realizing the third goal, making the best out of a ball lost by Federico Bernardeschi.
Still not happy, the usually peaceable Leo Messi also found the time to offer the most entertaining moment of the night, when he demanded a yellow card for a foul committed by Miralem Pjanic.
The image of Messi shouting “tarjeta! tarjeta!,” and Italianishly waving his hands to mimic the card for several seconds – before the referee got pissed off and decided to give him a yellow card – was worth the ticket for the match itself.
A meme is born, we are sure about that.