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Juventus vs Barcelona: Match Preview

Hariharan Balaji

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Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP

UEFA Champions League is back again as Barça travel to Turin for their most challenging game of the group stage.


Date and kick-off time: Wednesday 28 October 2020, 21:00 CET

Stadium: Allianz Stadium

Competition: UEFA Champions League, Group Stage, Matchday 2

Referee: Danny Makkelie


Overview

The first matchday of the UEFA Champions League was as eventful as it can get. Across eight groups, the teams displayed some impressive football kicking off this year’s tournament. In group G, the big guns played the underdogs of the group and walked away with comfortable wins. Now, in the second matchday, they face each other in one of the most exciting clashes of the week. 

Barcelona come into this game on the back of a disappointing defeat in El Clásico. While the Blaugranas won their first Champions League game last week, they are winless in three games in the league. The initial test for the new manager was to get past the three challenging games, and Ronald Koeman has failed in all three. The gruelling month finishes off with yet another testing game at Turin. 

Juventus, too are on the path to a similar season, adapting to a club legend as their new manager as Andrea Pirlo takes charge at the helm. While they opened their Champions League account with a two-nil win away at Dynamo Kyiv, they have struggled in their league. The Old Lady have had only two victories in Serie A, of which one got awarded to them as Napoli failed to turn up at the Allianz Stadium.

“There are great players in Barça, despite some absences. The keys for us will be desire and determination. It will be difficult, but beautiful.”

Andrea Pirlo

Both the teams have significant absences in their squads. The centre-back spot is especially on crisis mode as injuries and suspension have caused a severe lack of personnel at the position. Juventus miss Giorgio Chiellini and Matthijs de Ligt to injuries with Leonardo Bonucci also a doubt as he got off the pitch midway vs Hellas Verona.

Alex Sandro (left-back) is also unavailable with Merish Demiral being the only fully-fit centre-half. One of the most vital absentees is Cristiano Ronaldo, as the Portuguese is yet to recover from COVID-19. 

Barcelona will be without the services of Gerard Piqué as the Spaniard is suspended after picking up a red last game. Philippe Coutinho is set for a spell away from the action with a muscle injury joining the likes of March-Andre ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti. Ronald Araújo and Clement Lenglet are the only two centre-backs in the squad with B-team CBs also injured and not included here. On the plus side, all the fullbacks are back to full fitness. 

What to expect from Juventus?

Andrea Pirlo took over the reins from Maurizio Sarri over the summer as his first-ever coaching job at the top level. The Professor came into the job with a specific idea to play football and has been trying to implement it. The Italian has preferred a 3-4-1-2 system with two centre-backs, coupled with Danilo making the backline. The back-three helps in building from defence with able ball-carriers in either Rabiot or Arthur. But, with the centre-backs stretched thin, the Italian has chosen to go with a back four. 

“We’ll play with four in defence, it’s the only viable solution at this time. In midfield it will be a challenge between two very technical departments.”

Andrea Pirlo

New loan signing Federico Chiesa could start on the left-wing with Juan Cuadrado likely to be deployed as the right-back against Barça. Danilo could be on the left-back duties with the lack of options there. Adrien Rabiot, Arthur Melo, and Rodrigo Bentancur might make up the midfield to get a better balance. New signings Alvaro Morata and Dejan Kulusevski finish the teamsheet with Paulo Dybala slowly progressing his way into the starting eleven. 

Both Chiesa and Cuadrado are able crossers with both feet and with Alvaro Morata upfront, they could always find him at the end of their crosses. Dejan Kulusevski is an excellent prospect with quick feet and stinger of a shot, who came off the bench to rescue a point during the weekend for the Bianconeri. With players like Paolo Dybala and Aaron Ramsey, Pirlo has a lot of quality on the bench.

Pirlo would want his side to exploit the Barcelona defence by getting in behind their two-man midfield. With a different formation, the Italian would like his team to adapt quickly and get in the half-spaces. The 41-year-old might make his team pass the ball quickly to avert the press and get up the pitch as fast as possible.

What to expect from Barcelona?

Ronald Koeman has had a mixed response from the fans in these first few games. While he’s not afraid to bench the senior players when not performing, his in-game management has been nothing short of unavailing. The Dutchman has thrown in attacking players for defenders and midfielders when chasing the game. And that has resulted in an imbalance of the midfield leaving the defenders reeling due to numerical inferiority. 

Philippe Coutinho is injured, and there are a variety of players in-line to replace the Brazilian. Antonie Griezmann could get back into the eleven after barely featuring over the last two games. Or Koeman could continue with the impressive Pedri and play one of Trincao or Dembele in the right-wing. While Ansu Fati started as a nine over the weekend, he could return to the left-wing this time around. 

Ronald Araújo and Clement Lenglet are the only options at centre-back, and Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba might partner them in defence giving rest to Sergiño Dest. Miralem Pjanic could come into the eleven considering a dip in Sergio Busquets’ performance of late. With two mobile midfielders, Barça could cover the spaces the fullbacks leave and prevent the counter-attacks. 

Ronald Koeman would be hoping for that Lionel Messi, brings his shooting boots tomorrow. While the Argentine has been excellent in overall play, his output goal-wise has been surprisingly underwhelming. A big game like this would be an ideal time to get back his mojo in front of the goal and further help the team. 


Form

Juventus FC

Previous games: DWDWD

Juventus 1–1 Verona | Serie A
Dynamo Kyiv 0–2 Juventus| UEFA Champions League
Crotone 1–1 Juventus | Serie A
Juventus 3–0 Napoli | Serie A (Juventus awarded walk-over)
Roma 2–2 Juventus | Serie A

Position in Serie A

5th
9 points in 5 games
2 wins, 3 draws and 0 loss
10 Goals Scored, 4 Goal Conceded
+6 Goal Difference

FC Barcelona

Previous games: LWLDW

Barcelona 1–3 Real Madrid | La Liga
Barcelona 5–1 Ferencváros | UEFA Champions League
Getafe 1–0 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 1–1 Sevilla | La Liga
Celta Vigo 0–3 Barcelona | La Liga

Position in La Liga

12th
7 points in 5 games
2 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses
9 Goals Scored, 5 Goals Conceded
+4 Goal Difference

Head-to-head record

Last 5 meetings

Juventus 0–0 Barcelona | UEFA Champions League 17/18
Barcelona 3–0 Juventus | UEFA Champions League 17/18
Barcelona 0–0 Juventus | UEFA Champions League 16/17
Juventus 3–0 Barcelona | UEFA Champions League 16/17
Juventus 1–3 Barcelona | UEFA Champions League Final 14/15


Match facts

• Juventus have won 7 of their last 8 matches (Champions League).

• Barcelona have scored at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 matches (Champions League).

• Barcelona are unbeaten in four of their last five meetings against Juventus.

• Juventus are unbeaten in all competitions this season.


Team News

Juventus FC

Absences

Injured: Cristiano Ronaldo, Matthijs de Ligt, Alex Sandro, Giorgio Chiellini
Suspended: N/A

Possible line-up

4-3-3 :

Szczesny
Cuadrado · Demiral · Bonucci · Danilo
Rabiot · Bentancur · Arthur
Kulusevski · Morata · Chiesa

Coach: Andrea Pirlo

FC Barcelona

Absences

Injured: Samuel Umtiti (knee), Marc-André ter Stegen (Tendon), Philippe Coutinho (Hamstring)
Suspended: Gerard Piqué

Possible line-up

4–2–3–1:

Neto
Roberto · Araújo · Lenglet · Alba
Pjanic · de Jong 
Trincao · Griezmann · Fati
Messi

Coach: Ronald Koeman


Predictions:

A big game for both the managers as they try to bring their sides back to form. A win here would help the winner get a sufficient advantage of finishing at the top of the group. Injuries have stretched both Barcelona and Juventus thin, and this is a chance for the deputies to perform and impress their respective gaffers. With both sides equally struggling for form, it is expected to go down to the wire in Turin. 

Barça Universal Prediction: 1-2 win for the Catalans.

I got into watching football for the emotions of it. A goal followed by a crazy celebration from the player gave me goosebumps. But, watching the beautiful game over the years, I realised it was much more than just goals. The passing, the movements, the positioning and the effort involved behind the scenes opened my eyes to what football was. I keep trying to learn more about this incredible game and pass on what I learnt with a tinge of passion attached to it.

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Match Previews

Predicted Barcelona lineup against Elche — Trincao to start, Lenglet benched

Adithya Eshwarla

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Photo via Imago

Barcelona continue to fall; the draw to Cadiz could not come at a worse time for a squad healing from humiliation and devastation. When they had the ideal chance to close the gap on Atletico Madrid, the Blaugranas once again fell meekly to inflict damage to themselves

However, hope still lives on in the league. It may be faint, but it is a reason for Barcelona to fight on. The league continues with the clash against Elche on Wednesday. Here is how Barcelona can lineup against Elche.

Defence

Hopes in the league are getting dire indeed, as Barcelona continue to dig their own Grave. With yet another opportunity to close the gap squandered, Marc Andre ter Stegen will certainly start in goal. After all, this is not the time for rotation

The centre back crisis worsens day by day. Clement Lenglet has been largely scapegoated, however, the errors in the team are far beyond an individual level. On the night, Gerard Pique and Oscar Mingueza would be the ideal pairing, given Araujo’s yet impending return to action. As for Samuel Umtiti, it seems after his performance against Sevilla, his time with Barcelona is limited.

Mingueza deserves more time on the pitch. (Photo via Imago)

At left-back, Jordi Alba will continue to rack up another start as Koeman looks to get guaranteed points on the board. The Spaniard’s abilities will need to be utilised to the fullest for the Catalans to turn their season around.

One of the positives from the game against Cadiz was the positive performance from Sergino Dest. On the back of that stellar attacking display, there seem to be no doubts on the USMNT star’s start on Wednesday.

Midfield

After starting two games in a row, Sergio Busquets might well be rested on the night. The Spaniard would ideally be replaced by Miralem Pjanic, who could orchestrate the Catalan attack from the shadows. Though the Bosnian has received backlash for his extensive sideways passing, he has hardly put a for wrong when given the chance.

The midfield would ideally be completed by Frenkie de Jong and Riqui Puig. The Dutchman has more or less kept up his great start to the year, and the renwed role sees him in the box more often than not, thereby providing his side with a target man.

Another chance for Riqui to make a name for himself on the pitch. (Photo via Imago)

Riqui, on the other hand, would be a like for like replacement for Pedri, who has been criminally overused. The La Masia star provides a similar output, and it’s one risk that might be worth taking for the manager

Forward

It is criminal how Fransisco Trincao has pulled up stellar performances when given a chance, yet not rewarded with a start. Tonight could be the night for the winger, as he could start on the right-wing.

Trincao deserved to start on the weekend, too. But, alas. (Photo via Imago)

Lionel Messi will continue to lead the side from the front, acting as the centre forward and playmaker as he always does. The Argentine’s performance has a gigantic effect on the outcome, and once again, he will prove to be decisive.

Antoine Greizmann will complete the lineup on the left-wing. The Frenchman has seen a sudden low after a great start to the season. This is the time for him to put a stop to the lows and once again welcome the highs.

Griezmann · Messi · Trincao
Puig · Pjanic · de Jong
Alba · Pique · Mingueza · Dest
ter Stegen

Substitutions

Ousmane Dembele as always will be a worthy weapon on the bench for Ronald Koeman. His speed, agility and dribbling could well unlock the tight defence.

Pedri too will likely be called up in the second half. Barcelona with the 18-year-old are a totally different beast. The difference is conspicuous and startling! He will be decisive on the night.

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