It’s a tie that many Barcelona fans thought they would not get the chance to see this season. Their bid to win the Champions League looked dead in the water after a disastrous 4-0 defeat at PSG in the first leg of their last-16 tie. However, the Catalans side produced an incredible comeback to clinch another difficult matchup as they take on Italian champions Juventus in the competition’s quarter-finals.
Barcelona’s 6-1 victory over PSG may have taken a fantastic performance, but let’s not forget that it was Barca and their inconsistent away form that got them into that mess in the first place. It’s not the first time their away performances have caused problems, because they lost 3-1 away to Manchester City in the group stages. Three of their last five away Champions League games have ended in defeat, so it’s no wonder they depend so much on what happens on home territory.
That amazing comeback certainly shook up the UEFA Champions League betting, with Barcelona now 11/4 favourites to win outright. It’s their home form in this competition which is, to be honest, absolutely frightening for their opponents. Four home matches this season has seen them hammer in 21 goals, with just one conceded. That puts them in a situation where, whatever the result of the away leg, they know they have a chance once the home tie begins.
Their last 15 home Champions League games have all produced wins, with 50 goals scored and just seven conceded. Again, Barcelona play the first leg away from home and going to Turin to face Juventus is not going to be easy at all. The Italian side are almost certain to win Serie A again this term, so they can concentrate fully on trying to win the Champions League. Indeed, Juventus have been making steady if not spectacular progress in Europe this season. The round-robin stages saw them win their group, three points ahead of Sevilla, and then they defeated Porto 3-0 on aggregate to reach this quarter-final.
It’s not just Barcelona who can boast an impressive home Champions League record. You have to go back to 2013 for Juve’s last home defeat, and they are 18 games unbeaten in Serie A overall. In fact, only Bayern Munich have been able to go to Turin in the Champions League and get a win since 2004. Juventus face a massive task to keep those records intact in this tie.
Eight games in the Champions League this season has seen Juventus concede just twice, with only Lyon going to Italy and getting on the scoresheet. Don’t look for this quarter-final to be a high-scoring classic, however: a tightly contested battle looks to be the order of the day. Barcelona must be very careful in the second half of these games, as Juventus have scored 13 times in the Champions League this season – nine of which have come in the second half.
While Barcelona have the 2016/17 top scorer in the shape of Lionel Messi, who has 11 goals so far, Juventus are a side who have 10 players to have found the net in the Champions League this season. Higuain is their top scorer with just three, with Dybala and Dani Alves both having scored twice.
Juventus have been a bit under the radar in the Champions League this season, but present a mighty threat to their Spanish opponents. They have rather underachieved in Europe for the past decade or so; the Italian giants did knock Barcelona out at this stage in the 2002-03 tournament but since that win, they have only made it past the quarter-finals on one occasion – in 2014/15 when they made the final and lost to Barcelona.
It’s difficult to go against Barcelona to win this tie after what happened against PSG, but I just can’t see Juventus conceding goal after goal and collapsing as PSG did. The Italians have to get some kind of lead in the first leg, but with Barcelona in such amazing form at home in the Champions League, it’s the Spaniards who look to be on their way to a last four that could well contain three of their compatriots.