Of course recent history prevents us from ruling out a comeback, but Barcelona will find it much harder to find a miracle against a Juve side that has only conceded two goals in nine Champions League matches this season. Since that historic comeback, Barcelona have counterintuitively lost some momentum as they’ve lost two of six in La Liga and stuttered to a 3-2 win over Real Sociedad over the weekend. Their nemesis from the first leg, Paulo Dybala, who scored twice, is a doubt for Wednsesday’s match in Barcelona, but has returned to training. Barcelona are unbeaten in 15 home matches in European competition and Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri is wary of falling into the same trap PSG did by sitting back (although Juve’s defense is arguably better suited for the task) saying immediately after the match in Turin, “The second leg? We’ll go there to score goals.” Even a single goal would make the task nearly impossible for Barca, who would need to respond with five. Of course, the last time the impossible was required, they scored six.
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.
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.
Averages nearly a goal per game for Blaugrana.
Scored 40 goals in 35 appearances last season on his way to winning the European Golden Shoe.
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.