Juventus completely outplayed Barcelona to top group G. Juve needed to win by a margin of 3 goals and so they did and they did that quite comfortably.
Juventus linedup in 3-5-2 formation which was their attacking formation. While Barcelona were attacking Juve’s formation changed to a 4-4-2 with Alexandro dropping down to the left back spot. Ronald Koeman went with his 4-2-3-1 which sometimes changed shape to a 4-3-3. Juventus started really strongly and they were rewarded for their efforts with a penalty in the 12th minute when Cristiano was brought down softly by youngster Ronald Araujo. The penalty was a debatable one but VAR did not even check it and Ronaldo smashed the ball down the middle to make the score 1-0.
Barca continued to struggle to play out from the back and Juve again punished them in the 20th minute. Aaron Ramsey skipped pass two challenges to pass to Weston McKennie who played the ball outside to Cuadrado. Cuadrado chipped a delightful pass towards McKennie who scored acrobatically from close range.
After this goal Barcelona started gaining some momentum and had Lionel Messi at the heart of it. Messi hit a shot from 20 yards out but Gigi Buffon was equal to it. Messi had another two shots saved by Gigi Buffon as Barca ended the half strong. At half time Koeman took out Francisco Trincao in place of Martin Braithwaite and changed the formation to a 4-3-3 with Messi as the false 9.
Barca started the 2nd half quite well but were thwarted in the 50th minute when Clement Lenglet handled the ball in the penalty box. Ronaldo scored his second penalty of the match with Ter Stegen diving the wrong way. Barca continued to dominate possession but it was Messi only who could generate something. Gigi Buffon was in top form tho as he saved all of Messi’s attempts.
Juventus looked very dangerous on the counter and they could have scored 2-3 more but Cuadrado’s crosses were not good. Juventus did get a 4th in the 78th minute when Ronaldo miss hit his shot from point black range but it was bundled over by Bonucci. VAR chalked it off as Bonucci was ahead of the ball when Ronaldo miss hit it to him.
Antoine Griezmann had a great chance to make it 3-1 but he fluffed his lines. It was another poor showing from Griezmann who was anonymous for most of the match. Messi was by far the best player of the pitch and had incredible numbers. The only thing missing was a goal. However no one cares about that as it was Juventus who had the last laugh.
It is about time Barca need to consider Koeman’s tactics. Passing out of the back is one thing and passing to your opponent in front of your penalty box is another thing. If Barca do not change their approach to a more direct one another 8-2 is on the way.
While for Andrea Pirlo this might be the breakthrough and this performance from Juventus definitely silenced his critics.