Saturday September 9 2017
Juve and Barca meet again

Juventus might seem weaker on the surface than when they last faced Barcelona, but George Rinaldi sees an evolution.

Paulo Dybala exited the Juventus Stadium in April with his head held high. He had truly introduced himself on the European stage, scoring twice to give Juventus a 3-0 win over giants Barcelona.

Juve gave the complete performance, neutralising the Blaugrana’s MSN attack and tearing them to shreds at the back. The second leg at Camp Nou ended goalless and that meant the Bianconeri were never in danger of losing their command of the tie.

Fast forward four months, the sly grin of Il Gladiatore – Francesco Totti – directed toward Gigi Buffon as he drew Barcelona in Juve’s Champions League group. A lot has changed since they last crossed paths.

It’s true the ageless Buffon is still between the sticks, with Giorgio Chiellini and Alex Sandro in defence. Leonardo Bonucci has moved on to Milan and Dani Alves jumped ship to Paris Saint-Germain, where his new teammate is ex-Barcelona hero Neymar.

Undoubtedly, the Blaugrana have lost more over the summer, failing to adequately replace Neymar after pursuing Philippe Coutinho, Lorenzo Insigne and other targets for months.

Aside from those two exits, the Juventus starting XI remains similar to fans of Serie A. If anything, you could even argue their defence is now stronger. Stephan Lichtsteiner has been left off the Champions League roster, so it’s down to Mattia De Sciglio or Benedikt Howedes to fill the gap. Daniele Rugani also now has the opportunity to have more game time with Bonucci out of the picture. It’s a chance for the young man to truly shine.

The middle of the park has been bolstered by the arrival of Blaise Matuidi from Paris Saint-Germain, versatile Federico Bernardeschi and exciting winger Douglas Costa. Matuidi copped a lot of criticism from some fans, but the experienced France international was a shrewd buy who is in his prime. With Sami Khedira and Claudio Marchisio injured, he’ll be given the keys to that midfield.

Bayern Munich’s Douglas Costa decided Juventus were the right club to take his career to another level. An almost perfect fit for the Brazilian is Max Allegri’s 4-2-3-1 or even 4-3-3 formation, allowing him to cut inside as well as deliver the assists to the usual men up front.

The forwards, Dybala, Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain, are all still leading the line and considered by some to be the best trio in Serie A. Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon might argue with that, but the increasing value of Dybala alone is enough to make defenders’ boots quake. La Joya has embraced the responsibility of the Number 10 jersey and been a shining light so far this season.

This campaign for Juventus is not about replicating the past. Scudetto aside, is mirroring their exploits in the Champions League a success? Of course not. Juventus are no weaker than they were when they faced Real Madrid in Cardiff, and apart from a couple of players, are no different at a first glance from their victory over Barcelona.

Their signings have been well received – nothing spectacular – just what they needed. The Old Lady may have a somewhat different feel from 2016-17, but that is the idea. Allegri is constantly evolving his side and has been since the moment he inherited Antonio Conte’s squad. 

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
Absolutely brilliant last night. Hope rubentus get spanked again and again.
on the 13th September, 2017 at 7:33am
@Anonymous WTF DUDE!!!!! seriously what're ya doin on this thread of JUVE FANS...
on the 11th September, 2017 at 11:03pm
Remember folks Bonucci is as good as his unit at Juve consisting of BARZA AND CHIELO as a whole, and NOT AS AN INDIVIDUAL FOLKS.THAT'S WHAT MADE THE BBC THE MOST FEARED DEFENSIVE UNIT IN EUROPE.AND I'm positive its vice versa for the other 2 GLADIATORS AT JUVE.Mind you Chielo is and still the better of the 3 in defence and Barza comes in at a close 2nd.
on the 11th September, 2017 at 10:58pm
Hope Barca win 6-0 and Juve go out first round.
on the 11th September, 2017 at 11:55am
Hopeful outcome for the match:

1) Juve beat Barcelona

2) Barca fans blame their midfield

3) Iniesta signs for Juventus in January
on the 11th September, 2017 at 5:51am

Did you forget Juve losing to Genoa and Fiorentina too?
on the 10th September, 2017 at 10:31pm
don't worry interisti because Juve facing Barca is not like Inter facing Crotone (lost 2-1) or inter vs genoa (loss) or inter vs Haopel (2-0 and 3-2 losses) or Fiorentina (5-4 loss) or inter vs cagliari (4-1 loss) barca is a team, don't you wish your team could even play against them let alone compete in the same tournament with them :P but then again inter can't play twice a week anyways !
on the 10th September, 2017 at 1:42pm
We're going to Barcelona without both Dani Alves and Lichtsteiner. Couple that with the injuries+Bonucci's departure and it's clear the last outing is not a reference point at all. With all talk on how Barca are weaker without Neymar, they have managed to hide said weakness, and Dembele only represents a new possibility.

I'm excited for the tie but I'm not expecting a win, not unless Barca's weaknesses really get exposed.
on the 10th September, 2017 at 1:41pm
Hard to know what way the game will go.

Barca haven't improved over the summer, but are still capable of tearing teams apart on their day.

Juve are probably weaker in defense, better in attack.

Bernardeschi and Costa should be a step-up on Mandzukic and Cuadrado, but expect Bernardeschi to be used sparingly, given he's Italian and under 25.

Don't expect Rugani to play either, again because they don't trust youth. But Benatia isn't the answer, so Rugani and Howedes need to be.
on the 10th September, 2017 at 11:57am
I am not sure how anyone can conclude that selling Bonucci and Alves to get Howedes makes you stronger defensively. Without Litchenstein is there a specialised right back in Juve's squad? Anyways Barcelona had a far worse transfer campaign with only the exciting Dembele to show for it. Messi will always score against sides that cant defend and leave spaces but struggle against organised sides like Juve. Suarez is struggling somewhat and the mf has not been improved.
on the 10th September, 2017 at 9:13am
Juventus is stronger than last year. People only focus on Bonucci's departure and neglect the rest of the transfer campaign.

Last year they were complaining because Mandzukic and Cuadrado weren't good wingers. This year we get Costa and Berna, which is a huge improvement, but somehow people keep saying Juve is weaker. Khedira was not contributing in defense at all. Now we have Matuidi and this allows Pjanic to play better. Barca lost Neymar and they are one year older, while Juve has improved.
on the 10th September, 2017 at 1:26am
Fino Alla Fine!
on the 9th September, 2017 at 11:23pm

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