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Juventus vs Barcelona: 5 Talking Points

Barcelona Juventus highlights
Lionel Messi only came on as a substitute in the second half

Juventus and Barcelona played out a 0-0 draw at the Juventus Stadium in Turin on Wednesday night in their Champions League Group D encounter. It is the first time Barcelona have recorded back-to-back goalless draws in the competition after drawing 0-0 with Olympiakos on Matchday 4.

However, the result sees the Catalan club remain top of the group and seal their qualification to the Round of 16. This is the 16th consecutive season that Barcelona have qualified for the knockout stages of the competition.

On the other hand, the Italian champions will have to wait till the final matchday to confirm their progress as they are just a point ahead of Sporting Lisbon who beat Olympiacos 3-1.

Here are the major talking points from the game.


#1 Tactical game of defence vs defence

Barcelona Juventus Sergio Busquets
Sergio Busquets and Paulo Dybala fight for the ball

Despite the wealth of attacking talent in the Juve squad, the home side never really had clear chances on goal. Of the 10 shots they managed to take, only three were on target - all saved by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Juve's forward line never really got going as Barcelona pressed hard to win the ball back and starved them of space to create chances or initiate attacking moves.

At the other end of the pitch, Juve's defence stood firm to deny Barcelona's make-shift attack on a number of occasions. Whenever Barcelona had possession, they did not have much penetration, passing the ball around Juve's tight formation to look for an opening.

36-year-old Andrea Barzagli continues to defy his age as he managed to keep pace with Luis Suarez who did make a couple of dangerous runs into the final third.

#2 Barcelona were hopeless in attack without Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi Barcelona bench
Lionel Messi only came on as a substitute in the second half

Before the game, the papers had billed this as a contest between the two clubs' no.10s - Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala. Both play for Argentina and both were expected to shine tonight.

However, Ernesto Valverde dropped a bombshell when he announced a starting lineup without Messi. The Argentine forward was named as a substitute and did not come on until the 56th minute.

And Barcelona struggled for those 56 minutes. Valverde had started with a 4-2-3-1 with Paulinho in a no.10 role behind Suarez while Andres Iniesta and Gerard Deulofeu played out wide.

Although Suarez was back in his preferred position where he could lead the line, his lack of any real movement were one of the main reasons for Barcelona's struggles in the final third. The Uruguayan striker only managed two shots - none of which were on target.

Once Messi came on, Barcelona switched to a 4-4-2 and looked a little more fluid thanks to Messi's movement. But he was also surrounded by black-and-white shirts and the only real threat he provided was via free-kicks carelessly given away by Juve.

#3 No Chiellini? No problem!

Medhi Benatia Juventus Barcelona
Juve defender Medhi Benatia was the best player on the pitch

Ahead of one of their biggest clashes of the season, it was confirmed that Giorgio Chiellini would miss the game due to a thigh injury. It was a huge blow to the Turin side looking to seal qualification but Massimiliano Allegri was prepared with a contingency plan.

Medhi Benatia has hardly played for Juve this season but he played the full 90 minutes tonight and was easily the Man of the Match. Most eyes were on the younger Daniele Rugani to see how he would fare against Barca but it was Benatia who stole the show.

The Moroccan centre-back did not put a foot wrong and was always at the right place whenever required.

It was he who pretty much kept Suarez in check throughout the game. He finished the game with 8 interceptions and 10 clearances.

He was also quite adept with his passing, misplacing only one pass in the entire game to finish with a pass success rate of 97% - the best among all players who started the match.

#4 Juventus let down by their attack

Gonzalo Higuain Juventus Barcelona
Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain was visibly frustrated throughout the game

Gonzalo Higuain had the same number of shots on goal as Rugani and Benatia - one! If Suarez had a bad game, the Argentine striker had it worse.

The 29-year-old was simply starved of service by Barcelona's midfield and defence. The one opportunity he did get saw him turn the defender after receiving the ball with his back to goal before firing it over the crossbar and into the stands.

A lot of that was down to Douglas Costa and Juan Cuadrado getting shut down on the flanks. Nelson Semedo and Lucas Digne did well to keep them in check and when they did find a way inside, they were ably dealt with by Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti.

Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira both managed only one key pass - combined. Barcelona did well to shepherd the ball towards the flanks before pressing hard to win it back.

#5 Ter Stegen ensures lightning doesn't strike twice

Ter Stegen
Buffon hugs Ter Stegen after the game

In last season's Champions League quarter-final, Paulo Dybala had scored twice in the 3-0 win that eventually helped Juventus eliminate Barcelona. The second goal was a thing of beauty as Dybala - in acres of space - pounced on a cutback to fire a left-footed shot from the edge of the box past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

This time, again, Dybala had a similar chance. He had 4 shots in all and the last one almost gave The Old Lady the win.

With the game tied at 0-0 and in the second minute of stoppage time, Alex Sandro sent in a cross from which Dybala took his shot. It looked destined for the bottom corner before Ter Stegen's smart diving save denied the 24-year-old forward.

"We know Ter Stegen's quality. He makes the difference and the Barcelona goalkeeper, against the few things that come his way, has to be successful. In that sense, he's splendid." - Andres Iniesta after the game

The German goalkeeper has been in fine form and had made two moderately difficult saves earlier in the game. His confidence to catch the ball is one of his strengths and he has definitely grown in stature this season.

It was that save that eventually saw Barcelona progress through to the Round of 16.

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Edited by Rohith Nair
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