BARCELONA ROASTED BY JUVENTUS 3-0 IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MATCH IN TURIN
Paulo Dybala was the main man as Juventus smashed Barcelona. He has a trademark celebration. He puts his hand underneath his eyes then covers most of his face, so nobody can see him.
From now, though, he can hide no longer. On an unforgettable night in Turin, Dybala’s majesty ensured his features will now be known around the world. We came expecting to see a nimble Argentine with a magic wand for a left foot light up the Champions League and did not leave disappointed.
Dybala cast the kind of spells we expect to see from Lionel Messi, scoring twice as Juventus stamped their authority on this quarter-final, routing Barcelona by three unanswered goals. This was not a victory that was any way flattered Massimilliano Allegri’s relentless side.
Usually before these contests, managers are like poker players. They say little, give nothing away and protect their hand. Allegri, however, used his stage on Monday to speak with the openness and certainty of man who believed he was holding all the aces.
There was no point, he reasoned, of hoping to contain Barcelona for two legs then sneaking through on a penalty shootout. No. Juventus would be bold, Allegri insisted. Never mind worrying about Barcelona’s front three, was the message. Let them worry about us.
After 21 seconds, you could see his words were not idle. That’s how long it took for Juventus to wrestle possession back from Barcelona’s kick-off and break forward with such pace that the move ended with Sami Khedira firing a shot over the bar.
Attacking the stand that housed their ‘Ultras’, Juventus were determined to hit them hard and hit them early, to use the sense scrambling noise to their advantage and in the third minute, the opening goal should have arrived but Gonzalo Higuain headed straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
His profligacy did not matter. Now was the time for Dybala to step forward and show why the comparisons with Messi are not lazy. His opening goal, which arrived in the seventh minute, was glorious, guiding the ball with his left foot into the tightest angle after Juan Cuadrado set him up.
Cue pandemonium. Here was the trump card in Allegri’s hand being delivered; the goal was brilliant but so was everything else, from the quick passing to the runs into the spaces that left Barcelona’s defenders not knowing whether to stick or twist.
Dybala’s second goal, on 22, was just as good, a fizzing left foot drive whipped inside the near post after Juventus launched a rapier counterattack. The goal was crucial because 60 seconds earlier Gianluigi Buffon had made a superb save to thwart Andres Iniesta.
‘Paulo played a great game,’ said Allegri, who called Buffon’s atop ‘spectacular’.
‘But I can say the team also played a great game. I never like to distinguish names but I want to say that tonight it was a beautiful victory from the whole victory.’
Barcelona had their moments. They had a goal disallowed in the first half that would have altered the complexion of the game and the way they moved the ball was, at times, a joy to watch.
And Messi, it must noted, produced some moments that were out of this world, not least the pass that gave Iniesta his sight of goal. Every time he got possession, fear descended that he would do something out of the ordinary. Only the hosts sheer bloody-mindedness stopped him doing so.
Yet Luis Enrique, their ashen faced coach, found no solace in any aspect of their performance. After the embarrassment of Paris, when they were blitzed 4-0 in the first leg of their last 16 tie, this was another evening to leave him squirming and disconsolate.
Juventus (4-2-3-1): Buffon 7, Dani Alves 7, Bonucci 8, Chiellini 8, Alex Sandro 7, Pjanic 8, Khedira 7, Cuadrado 7.5 (Lemina, 73), Dybala 9 (Rincon, 81), Mandzukic 6.5, Higuain 6.5
Subs not used: Neto, Marchisio, Barzagli, Asamoah, Lichtsteiner
Booked: Alves, Mandzukic, Khedira
Goals: Dybala 7, 22, Chiellini 55
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen 7, Sergi Roberto 6, Pique 6, Umtiti 5, Mathieu 6 (A Gomes, 46, 7), Rakitic 6, Mascherano 6, Iniesta 7, Messi 7.5, Luis Suarez 7, Neymar 6
Subs not used: Cillessen, Denis Suarez, Alcacer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Alena
Booked: Suarez, Iniesta
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland)