Wednesday, 16 August, 2017

Juventus hold Barcelona to reach Champions League semis

Allegri Juventus could have played Barcelona for a whole day and not conceded Allegri Juventus could have played Barcelona for a whole day and not conceded
Kristopher Love | 21 April, 2017, 19:59

Barcelona were unable to mount another second-leg comeback at the Camp Nou in the UEFA Champions League, as a 0-0 draw against an imperious Juventus side saw them eliminated 3-0 on aggregate at the quarter-final stage on Wednesday.

Barca had overcome a 4-0 first-leg deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 with a dramatic 6-1 win back on home soil.

Barca continued to press and substitute Javier Mascherano nearly pulled one back on 81 minutes when he touched a Neymar effort towards goal, but Buffon denied him with a good save. We had a great attitude and made a huge effort so it's a shame.

Having now avenged their 2015 Champions League final loss to Barcelona, Juventus also leads the Italian league and has lined up an Italian Cup final against Lazio.

Neymar was yellow carded for lunging into a very late tackle and Juve were furious when they put the ball out so Mario Mandzukic could get treatment, but Barcelona didn't return it. 3-0 will take it to extra-time, 4-0 would be flawless, but just one Juve goal would leave Barca needing five.

However, Barcelona have lost three of their last six Champions League games, as many losses as in their previous 26 games under Luis Enrique. With Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci enormous in front of the evergreen Gianluigi Buffon there was no way through.

Otherwise, the same Juventus starting 11 from the first leg had control of the match, bending but never breaking under the assault of a Barcelona in full-attack mode.

A better chance went begging a few moments later when Messi lashed a left-footed strike wide from 15 yards after Luis Suarez's flick had set him up. That was displayed within seconds of the start, when they actually went straight up and assuredly attacked Barca, rather than tentatively sitting back. "They had more chances in Turin than they did tonight".

Messi had another half-chance on 31 minutes with a shot from just outside the area which took a slight deflection as Gianluigi Buffon got down to parry, before the Barca man followed up and lashed his second attempt into the sidenetting.

Juve have conceded just two goals in Europe this season but the Barca coach had confidently insisted before the game that his side could score five times at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Barcelona have reached the quarter-finals for the 10th consecutive season, the longest run in the history of the Champions League.