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UEFA Champions League preview: Barcelona vs Juventus

Juventus are scheduled to face Barcelona on the road in tonight’s Champions League group stage clash.

Both sides have already booked their berths in the round of 16 stage, but the top position in Group G is still up for grabs.

The Bianconeri have remained unbeaten in the Serie A after 10 matches, but they have played out five draws during this period.

Hence, they are only fourth in the league standings and are currently six points adrift of table-toppers AC Milan.

In the Champions League, they have fared much better with four wins from five games with their only defeat (0-2) coming against Barcelona at home.

Meanwhile, the Blaugrana have made their worst La Liga start in 33 years and they are presently 12 points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid.

Like the Bianconeri, they have excelled in the Champions League and they are the only side with the perfect record of 15 points after five group games.

Andrea Pirlo’s side must score at least three goals tonight and win by a two-goal margin in order to any chance of topping Group G.

Key Stats:

Cristiano Ronaldo will revive his rivalry with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. The match-up between Ronaldo and Messi is always much-awaited, but the former was absent for the reverse meeting after testing positive for COVID-19. He will face Messi for the first time since leaving Real Madrid for Juventus in the summer of 2018.

The Bianconeri’s best result against the Blaugrana came during the 2016/17 Champions League quarter-final where they won the first leg at home by a 3-0 scoreline. They managed to play out a goalless draw in the return leg to seal a comfortable aggregate triumph.

Since then, they have not fared well against the Catalan giants and are winless in the previous four meetings with two draws and two defeats. During this period, they have failed to find the back of the net against the La Liga outfit.

Juventus have beaten the Blaugrana at the Camp Nou on only occasion and that came during the 2003 quarter-final. They have a tough task of breaking the unwanted feat tonight, considering the hosts have not lost in the last 38 Champions League matches at home, which is a competition record.

Team News:

The hosts are likely to be without four first-team players. Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati (both knee), Sergi Roberto (hamstring & COVID-19) and Ousmane Dembele (hamstring) are out of contention.

The visitors are definitely without Merih Demiral and Giorgio Chiellini, who are sidelined with muscular problems. Gianluigi Buffon could return to the mix after reporting for training following a thigh concern.

Predicted Line-ups:

Barcelona (4-2-3-1): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Sergino Dest, Ronald Araujo, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Miralem Pjanic, Frenkie de Jong; Pedri, Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho; Antoine Griezmann

Juventus (4-4-2): Wojciech Szczesny; Juan Cuadrado, Leonardo Bonucci, Matthijs de Ligt, Alex Sandro; Dejan Kulusevski, Adrien Rabiot, Rodrigo Bentancur, Federico Chiesa; Alvaro Morata, Cristiano Ronaldo

Predicted Score:

Juventus must win comfortably to secure the top position in Group H, but we don’t see that happening. The Blaugrana have experienced mixed fortunes in the Spanish La Liga, but have excelled in Europe with a 100 percent record. They should play with more freedom with their head-to-head advantage from the reverse meeting and it could be a high-scoring thriller.

Barcelona 2-2 Juventus

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