Published: 9th Dec,2020 1:27PM
Barcelona hadn’t lost at home since the 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in May 2013. However, two penalties from Cristiano Ronaldo on the either side of a Weston McKennie wondergoal brought the streak to a halt.
Despite boasting 59% possession and attempting 20 shots (in comparison, Juventus had just eight), the Blaugrana failed to create many clear-cut opportunities. Captain Lionel Messi was the only threat coming from Barcelona.
The defeat also condemns Ronald Koeman’s side to second in Group G behind Juventus, courtesy of an inferior head-to-head record. They now face the prospect of a tough draw in the last 16.
Here are the hit and flop performers from the match.
Hit: Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
It just had to happen, isn’t it? Cristiano Ronaldo, back at the Camp Nou and facing his old rivals after two years and eight months, scores twice. How poetic. Who cares if both his strikes on the night came from the spot? The Portuguese ace left his mark in Catalonia once again, just like old times.
What’s also important to note is these were his first, and possibly last, pair of goals against the Blaugrana in the Champions League. He hadn’t scored against them in Europe in their previous five meetings. So that’s another anomaly erased.
On a night when Ronaldo was finally reunited with his old foe Messi on the pitch, he managed to come out on top. Even though performance-wise, the Argentine was better.
Flop: Clement Lenglet (Barcelona)
We spoke about the penalty-scorer, now let’s talk about the man who conceded both the penalties. Lenglet had a poor game by all standards. Even though the first penalty was a bit soft to concede, there’s no hiding the fact that he looked unsettled all night.
As the Bianconeri laid seige on Barca’s goal, the Frenchman had a hard time in dealing with Ronaldo, Morata, and McKennie. He deepened his side’s woes with a handball inside the box, which allowed the Portuguese ace to gleefully convert another penalty.
He went into the books for that too, rounding off another calamitous night just days after the horrific showing in the defeat to Cadiz in the league.
Hit: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
This had to be one of Messi’s best performances this calendar year without actually scoring. The Barcelona skipper mustered seven shots on target himself, the most by any player in a European game since 2003-04. He stemmed everything good that came through the home side.
He literally ran the show for Barcelona with his electric runs through the lines, twisting Juventus defenders inside out. With nine dribbles attempted on the night, the Argentine ace seemed up for the mighty task. However, his team mates, once again, let him down.
Some credit goes to the evergreen Gianluigi Buffon too. The 42-year old custodian pulled off amazing saves to deny him, and gained some measure of redemption for the hammering Messi delivered him in 2017.
Flop: Francisco Trincao (Barcelona)
We could’ve gone with anyone from the Barcelona side here, because pretty much everyone was disappointing barring Messi, of course. But Trincao gets the spot here because the youngster spurned a great chance to impress.
On a rare start today, and moreover against such a big side on a big occasion, the stage was set for the 20-year old to announce his breakthrough. Instead, he was nowhere to be seen.
Perhaps the game was a bit too fast for him. Trincao also had some of the least touches on the ball than any player. It’s still early days for him, but the Barca faithfuls are hoping the winger finds his feet sooner than later.
Hit: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
We just couldn’t leave him out. The ageless Juventini turned back the calendar with a stellar performance between the sticks. He made seven saves on the night, all against Messi alone.
In a game of high stakes like this where the Bianconeri needed a huge win to secure top spot, Andrea Pirlo’s decision to start him in goal ahead of Szczesny might have seemed risky initially.
Buffon rarely plays, but mustered every ounce of his experience and goalkeeping expertise to shut out the hosts, or Messi, to be particular.