Can Juventus continue to frustrate Lionel Messi and the other talking points ahead of Barcelona's Champions League clash against Italians

The Champions League returns with a salivating clash between last season's finalists Juve and La Liga giants Barca

Andy West
by Andy West
11th September 2017

article:11th September 2017

Juventus will be looking to keep Lionel Mess quiet again.
Juventus will be looking to keep Lionel Mess quiet again.

Barcelona and Juventus clash at the Nou Camp on Tuesday evening.

The two European giants know each other better than most, having faced-off in the competition last term.


Ahead of the match-up in Catalonia, there are plenty of talking points to be discussed.

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CAN JUVENTUS CONTINUE TO FRUSTRATE MESSI?

When the teams met in last season’s quarter-final a few months ago, Juventus succeeded in doing something very few teams have managed: keeping Lionel Messi quiet. Twice.

The Argentine star and his teammates were held to a blank over the full 180 minutes as Juve cruised through to the last four with a 3-0 aggregate victory, and their ability to restrict Barca’s attacking power will provide the Italians with great confidence that they can claim a positive result again tonight.

However, things have changed a lot since then. On the one side, Neymar has gone, Ousmane Dembele has arrived and Messi is back in his old ‘false nine’ position in the centre of the pitch rather than starting on the right wing.

And on the other side, Leonardo Bonucci is no longer within Juve’s ranks as they aim for another Camp Nou clean sheet, and another defensive stalwart Giorgio Chiellini is also absent through injury.

Considering those added elements, whatever happened last season is not really relevant and Juve have a major challenge to subdue Messi, who is in red-hot form after his weekend hat-trick against Espanyol.

Juventus managed to keep Messi quiet in both legs last year.

Juventus managed to keep Messi quiet in both legs last year.

WILL DYBALA IMPRESS FUTURE SUITORS?

For a long time, Juve’s attacking ace Paulo Dybala has been heavily linked with a potential move to Barcelona – and those rumours were only enhanced by his decision earlier this month to appoint as his agent his brother, who just happens to live in the Spanish city.

Despite Juve’s stature as by far the most successful team in Italy in recent years, there remains a sense that no attacking player can truly belong to the game’s elite without playing in England, Spain or for Bayern Munich or PSG.

And Dybala, whose brilliant brace for Juve effectively secured their quarter-final clash with Barca last season, should logically be among the leading candidates to become a long-term replacement for Andres Iniesta or Luis Suarez within the Camp Nou ranks.

Another eye-catching performance tonight would undoubtedly strengthen the Spanish club’s interest, so if that move is within Dybala’s sights expect him to be super-motivated.

Paulo Dybala will be eager to impress Barcelona.

Paulo Dybala will be eager to impress Barcelona.

TIME FOR DEMBELE’S DEBUT?

Ousmane Dembele spent a largely inconsequential 25 minutes on the pitch as he made his Barcelona debut in Saturday’s 5-0 walk in the park win over Espanyol, but his well-crafted last minute assist for Luis Suarez definitely left the home fans wanting more.

Realistically, Saturday’s starter Gerard Deulofeu is only keeping Dembele’s place warm until manager Ernesto Valverde decides the recent record signing is sufficiently match fit to start, and the vast majority of Barca fans are willing that to happen sooner rather than later.

Dembele’s arrival has sparked a great sense of excitement at a club which desperately needed a morale-boosting pick-up after a depressing summer, and the pace and direct running of the 20 year-old French winger could also make him the right kind of player to break down Juve’s stubborn defence.

If he is selected to start, he will be placed under an uncommon amount of pressure for a 20 year-old, and it will be fascinating to see whether he is able to deliver.

It remains to be seen if new boy Dembele will be handed his full debut.

It remains to be seen if new boy Dembele will be handed his full debut.


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