Barcelona’s remarkable comeback against PSG in the Round of 16 - the first to ever overturn a four-goal first leg deficit in the Champions League - showed that there are few limits to what this team can achieve. Lost in that however, is the fact that the only reason they made history was because they were thoroughly outplayed in Paris in a 4-0 defeat. They now begin another Champions League tie on the road, against Juventus, who haven’t lost in 21 European matches at home. Juve’s defence have only allowed two goals in the competition so far as they’ve gone unbeaten. If there’s a backline capable of corralling MSN, it’s the BBC of Barzagli, Bonucci, and Chiellini. Coming off a 2-0 loss to Malaga this week, when a win would have put them top of La Liga, Barcelona will need to put in a much stronger performance if they’re to get a vital away goal in Turin. They’ll be without a suspended Sergio Busquets, providing Luis Enrique with a selection dilemma that could define this first leg.
Over the summer, Italian champions Juve robbed their biggest Serie A rivals of their best talent - taking the league’s top goalscorer, Gonzalo Higuain, away from second-place finishers Napoli and the most productive midfielder, Miralem Pjanic, from Roma, who finished third. With their domestic season looking comfortable, you’d expect Juventus to put their focus on winning the Champions League for the first time since 1996, with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte starting in midfield. While they’ll certainly miss the loss of Paul Pogba, they’ve reinforced enough over the summer that they are considered among the favorites to reach the final.
With the trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar up front, Barcelona are automatic contenders for the Champions League. Last season, they managed a domestic double, but lost 3-2 on aggregate in the quarterfinals to eventual runners-up Atletico Madrid. Their starting eleven will be largely the same, bolstered by centerback Samuel Umtiti, who starred for France at the Euros and a few other up-and-comers to fill out the squad. After satiating their appetite for domestic silverware and watching two league rivals face off in last year’s final, expect La Blaugrana to make winning the Champions League priority number one. Plus, after a season of playing in sacrilegious horizontal stripes, they’re back to their traditional vertical.
Scored a Serie A-record 36 league goals for Napoli last season.
The heart and soul of Juve for over 15 years and 460+ appearances, even as they were relegated to Serie B following the Calciopoli betting scandal.