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Juventus 0-2 Barcelona: 5 talking points as Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi strikes secure big win for the Catalans | UEFA Champions League 2020-21

Barcelona players celebrate after Messi
Barcelona players celebrate after Messi's penalty helped seal all three points against an under-fire Juventus
ANALYST
Modified 03 Nov 2020, 15:34 IST
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Goals from Ousmane Dembele and a Lionel Messi penalty saw Barcelona earn a morale-boosting 2-0 Champions League group-stage win over Serie A champions Juventus.

Both sides were missing key players, though the pre-match build-up was dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo's inability to feature after once again testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. 

His absence was certainly felt as Juventus were bested at home by a Barcelona side that has been heavily criticised in recent months.

Álvaro Morata had a hat-trick of goals ruled out for offside after VAR review and although the Spaniard's efforts were admirable, there wasn't much else to encourage under-pressure head coach Andrea Pirlo.

It's only been 38 days since Pirlo made his competitive managerial debut against Sampdoria. Some disgruntled supporters already feel the legendary midfielder's tenure is destined to end the same way Maurizio Sarri's did: with a whimper. 

Merih Demiral, who made his first Champions League start since December 2019, was sent off late in the game after a second booking for a needless lunging challenge on former teammate and Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic.

Juventus had no shots on target for the first time since their first-leg UCL last-16 defeat by Ligue 1 side Lyon in February. We all know how that tie ended. 

Here are five talking points from the intriguing encounter in Turin. 

Also check out: Updated Champions League Winners List

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#5 Lenglet and Roberto with quietly impactful defensive displays for Barcelona

Roberto continues showing why he
Roberto continues showing why he's trusted as a makeshift right-back for Barcelona

On a night where Gerard Pique was out through suspension, first-choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen (knee) remained sidelined and Ronald Araujo made his first UCL start, it's unsurprising that Clement Lenglet and Sergi Roberto led by example without making much fuss. 

Granted, the 21-year-old Araujo was replaced at half-time with an injury, and Sergio Busquets' inclusion prompted a reshuffle at the back but the point stands. 

Neto didn't have a save to make - after making six against Real Madrid on the weekend - and although Morata scored an offside hat-trick, it was Barcelona's defensive positioning that did the trick. He didn't seem to adjust accordingly and despite his best efforts, was left ruing his lack of fortune in a game that could've swung either way with more support from his teammates.

Federico Chiesa (on-loan from Fiorentina) was frustratingly quiet while Dejan Kulusevski had a few encouraging flashes, but not much more than that, on the opposite flank. Paulo Dybala wasn't as involved as much as he, nor his teammates, would've liked and also cut a forlorn figure by full-time. All three players were effectively shut out by the visitors' backline.

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Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba (three clearances, one block and tackle) did his bit defensively too but has often flattered to deceive off the ball against top opposition. The same cannot be said for Lenglet nor Roberto, who quietly go about their business and continue to prove themselves as reliable players. 

Between them, they recorded five interceptions, four tackles and two clearances while retaining possession well, winning fouls and committing necessary challenges when needed. 

The picture above, where Roberto scythed down Chiesa was a perfect example of the sort of guile Barcelona don't tend to utilise often enough. It's why teams aren't afraid to play them but they need to sustain this consistency all year round rather than in a one-off setting.

Also check out: Champions League Draws 2020/21

#4 VAR didn't help but Morata must keep his head up

Morata had a hat-trick of goals ruled out for offside against Barcelona here, but played well considering
Morata had a hat-trick of goals ruled out for offside against Barcelona here, but played well considering

Since returning to Turin on an initial one-year loan deal, it's been a busy month for Álvaro Morata. He struggled during their 2-2 draw at Roma on September 27, but has scored or assisted in each of their last three games since then. He worked tirelessly against Barcelona and was Juventus' best player but his patience wore thin as time ticked by.

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It could have been a very different game had he not been marginally offside before bundling home a rebounded effort past Neto moments after Dembele's deflected opener. You could say the same thing about his second or third goal (both first-time finishes) as he latched on to Cuadrado's deliveries on both occasions.

Instead, he looked bemused and was almost pleading with referee Danny Makkelie for mercy as the Dutchman pointed to his ear before confirming another goal was chalked off.

With a team-low 30 touches over 90 minutes, you can only hope from a neutral perspective that Morata doesn't let his head drop after this. He's a confidence player, and finishing has never truly been his forte. However, when Cristiano Ronaldo returns, it'll be interesting to see how the pair dovetail in the final third. 

Also check out: Champions League Final Updates

#3 Griezmann's goal drought continues, Barcelona need to be more clinical

Griezmann
Griezmann's goalscoring drought for Barcelona continues, but he nonetheless acquitted himself well
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Antoine Griezmann came close on Wednesday night, hitting the woodwork on two occasions, but his Barcelona goal drought has extended to ten competitive matches after drawing a blank against Juventus. The £108m fee paid to Atletico last summer continues to appear damning and as the World Cup winner turns 30 in the first quarter of 2021, he's already peaked. It's all downhill from there. 

Messi continues showcasing his ability to influence matches with effortless ease, and it's remarkable to think he's four years older than Griezmann. The pair combined well but equally looked disjointed on a night where Barcelona were visibly trying too much to pass the ball into Wojciech Szczesny's goal.

Griezmann could've had a first-half assist after committing two Juventus defenders with a deft backheel flick, only for Messi to get his angles wrong and fire wide of the far post. 

With that being said, Griezmann could've had three or four goals of his own with better luck and a more razor-sharp edge to his finishing. Having hit the post less than two minutes into the proceedings, he did so again after another defence-splitting Messi through-ball in the second half. 

Somehow, the scores were finely poised at 1-0 until Ansu Fati was clumsily fouled by substitute Federico Bernardeschi, and Messi made no mistake with the subsequent penalty.

This was a better performance by Griezmann but he (and Barcelona) must be more clinical in the future. The fact that Juventus still had a chance to rescue a point was worrying.


Also check out: Most Champions League Clean sheets 2020/21

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Published 29 Oct 2020, 08:47 IST
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