Yes, everyone, the UEFA Champions League is back, and we’re set for a grand opening night. In a rematch from last season’s Semi-Final, Barcelona will welcome Champions League Finalists Juventus to the Camp Nou. The two juggernauts are the clear favourites to qualify from Group D, as Olympiakos & Sporting CP are the other two teams.
When the two met last season, Juventus sunk La Masia 3-0 over two legs, keeping clean sheets against MSN in both games. Massimiliano’s men were unstoppable, and Barcelona had no answer to the resolute organisation of the Serie A champions. However, we’re now in a new era as Ernesto Valverde has the team playing in a more robust & efficient way than last season.
Both teams are in formidable form, as they’ve both won their opening three league games. Barcelona were a team in ruins in the summer, and the visit of Juventus will show us just how far Ernesto Valverde’s men have come.
- Rafinha is still out with a long-term meniscus injury; he’s missed 17 matches in total so far.
- Arda Turan has had back trouble since last week Wednesday, and there’s no reported timeline for his return.
- Sergi Roberto has knee problems that will keep him out for the foreseeable future.
- Mario Mandžukić hobbled off during Juventus’ 3-0 win over Chievo, his recovery status as of now is unsure.
- Alex Sandro was suffering from flu over the weekend and is doubtful.
- Giorgio Chiellini has been sidelined with a calf injury since the 1st of September; his return date is not clear.
- Claudio Marchisio is making good progress on his knee injury, but the tie will come too soon for him, he’ll be back on the 27th of September.
Lionel Messi: the Argentinian has been in fine form as of recent, despite the departure of Neymar. Messi has scored 5 league goals in his opening 3 La Liga games. The 30-year old’s free role in the middle of the park has allowed him to both score more freely and create more chances for the team.
Paulo Dybala: like his master, the Argentinian has scored 5 goals in his opening 3 Serie A games. The 23-year old has been in scintillating form, single-handedly changing the outcome of games with moments of individual brilliance.
Barcelona 1-1 Juventus
With Giorgio Chiellini injured and Leonardo Bonucci at AC Milan, it’ll be close to impossible for Juventus to replicate their fine defensive displays of last season. But the overall organisation of the team will be the same, and it may prove too much too soon for Barcelona’s new attack to adjust to.
Whether Valverde gives Ousmane Dembélé a start or not will be interesting as Gerard Deulofeu has a formed an effective chemistry with Lionel Messi, as the Spaniard seeks to find him at every opportunity.
This will be a tight clash only settled by a few moments of individual brilliance. Barcelona will seek to break Juventus down through the middle and Juventus will look to counter attack down the flanks, it’ll be a clash of tactical approaches.