Barcelona Claim Bragging Rights Over Ronaldo-Less Juventus

Andrea Pirlo managed to guide Juventus to a hard-fought victory over Dynamo Kyiv in their Champions League opener but had a stiff task to contain a struggling Barcelona side. It would prove to be as such as his boys were second best in the 0-2 defeat.

Ronald Koeman has been under a baptism of fire at the Camp Nou. His men gave a good account of their abilities against Ferencvaros but stuttered in the initial exchanges. They were found wanting against Real Madrid over the weekend, giving Juventus hopes for their UEFA Champions League match-day 2 meeting.

The Old Lady were always going to have a challenge on their hands in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo. Lionel Messi might be in his twilight years, but he can still manage to pull his weight. With Pedri and Ousmane Dembélé on the wings, and Antoine Griezmann leading the charge, they had their plates full. It would prove to be too much as the Italians conceded an unimpressive defeat.

In the first period, both sides exchange attacking opportunities, but it was the visitors who were dominant with their initial forays. Just two minutes after the start, Miralem Pjanic made Wojciech Szczesny pull off a reflexive save after the Bosnian sent a shot from outside the box. Antoine Griezmann would come close, but his effort from inside the box came off the left post.

Barcelona broke the deadlock through Ousmane Dembélé in the 14th minute. The Frenchman tried his luck from the edge of the box, his shot taking a deflection and looping high before going into the net at the far post.

For Barcelona, Ronald Koeman deployed 17-year-old sensation Pedri who captured the eye with a fine performance

Alvaro Morata could have equalized for the hosts in the next minute but was adjudged offside by VAR. The Spaniard was again found guilty of passing the last defender before the ball was played by the half-hour mark with VAR intervening again and giving the definitive ruling.

Pirlo’s men managed to keep Lionel Messi silent for the duration of the first 45 minutes. La Pulga did come to get a shot on goal, but his effort from inside the box was wide of the right post.

The second half would see matters take a turn for the worst for Juventus. It was VAR again which resulted in their undoing. Alvaro Morata fired a shot past Neto but was adjudged off-side in the buildup of the goal for the third time in the night.

Both Paulo Dybala and Pedri had shots from dangerous areas blocked by the respective defenses. Meanwhile, both Dejan Kulusevski and Adrien Rabiot would send shots wide of the mark. It was Antoine Griezmann who came closest to trouble the scorers, but his effort was whiskers away from the right post.

Already a goal down, Juventus’ task to get something out of the fixture got trickier as Merih Demiral earned a second yellow card and orders for an early bath.

Merih Demiral saw red in the second half, adding to Juventus’ woes

The Catalans would make the Old Lady pay for this mistake, through the boots of their captain. It had not gotten better for Messi in the second period, and his only meaningful effort had the ball sailing wide of the left post. The Argentine even went down in the area, but the referee waved play on.

He would eventually get on the scoreboard, but only after young Ansu Fati had earned a penalty after being fouled by Federico Bernardeschi. Messi calmly took his shot, and Szczesny had no chance to save it as the ball hit the back of the net.

In the end, it was a deserved victory for Barcelona, who returned to Catalonia with their first away win over Juventus after six attempts. There could and should have been more goals, but the 0-2 scoreline was justified. The match had already lost its pizzazz when Cristiano Ronaldo was ruled out from the showdown against his old nemesis, but it made up with the slew of chances missed and Alvaro Morata’s three attempts being denied by VAR.



October 28, 2020 – Champions League 2020-21 Group Stage

SCORERS: 14′ Dembélé, 90′ Messi pen.

JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, Demiral, Danilo; Kulusevski (75′ McKennie), Bentancur (83′ Arthur), Rabiot (83′ Bernardeschi), Chiesa; Dybala, Morata (Pinsoglio, Buffon, Ramsey, De Winter, Frabotta, Portanova, Riccio) Coach: Pirlo
BARCELONA (4-2-3-1): Neto; Sergi Roberto, Araujo (46′ Busquets), Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Pjanic, De Jong; Dembélé (66′ Ansu Fati), Messi, Pedri (92′ Braithwaite); Griezmann (89′ Firpo) (Peña, Tenas, Dest, Aleñá, Puig, Trincao) Coach: Koeman


REFEREE: Makkelie (Netherlands)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Kulusevski, Cuadrado, Rabiot (J), Sergi Roberto (B); Red Card: Demiral (J); Extra Time: First Half 2′, Second Half 5′