Juventus vs Barcelona: Five things we learned from Champions League defeat for Luis Enrique's side

Mark Critchley, Luke Brown
The Independent
Lionel Messi and his team-mates were left frustrated in a first leg: Getty
Lionel Messi and his team-mates were left frustrated in a first leg: Getty

Barcelona will have to produce another Nou Camp comeback if they are to reach the semi-finals of this year's Champions League after going down to a 3-0 defeat at Juventus.

Paulo Dybala's first-half brace and Giorgio Chiellini's header after the break consigned Luis Enrique's underwhelming side to defeat in Turin.

Here's five things we learned...

Dybala lives up to ‘new Messi’ billing

Paulo Dybala has had to put up with comparisons to Lionel Messi throughout his young career and such comparisons have often felt premature.

There was, of course, a time when every young Argentinian with a trick up their sleeve was Diego Maradona’s heir. Only Messi ever achieved such a status and now, the search is on for his successor.

Here, Dybala showed why he can live up to the billing. The former Palermo forward’s goals were both superbly taken, and such brilliance was only amplified by Messi’s relatively muted performance.

Buffon only gets more and more unbelievable

It is no secret that Gianluigi Buffon remains one of the world’s best goalkeepers, but that fact becomes only more remarkable with each incredible save he makes.

His denial of Andres Iniesta, with the score still at 1-0, was arguably as pivotal as Juventus’ second goal, which followed a minute later.

Buffon stuck out his left to send the effort swerving around his far post. That same hand then punched the air in sweet satisfaction. It was a save of the season contender.

Barcelona’s back three frailties exposed

One look at the scoreline the last time Barcelona played a back three in this competition and you might consider it a success. 6-1 is not a scoreline to be sniffed at, and that is without considering that it came as part of one of the most incredible comebacks of all time.

Yet the signs were there that night that Luis Enrique’s side are yet to become fully comfortable with three at the back. The same issues were evident in the defeat to Deportivo La Coruna that followed, as well as the edgy victory over 10-man Valencia.

Here, the system was fully exposed by a tactically astute, technically excellent and mentally resolute outfit. Sergio Busquets’ absence did not help, of course, but that was arguably a reason for Luis Enrique to play it safe and with a conservative four-man defence.

Alves shows Barca what they’re missing

“They thought I was finished,” Dani Alves rather bitterly remarked when Barcelona allowed him to join Juventus on a free at the start of the season. “So I decided to head off in a new direction and find happiness somewhere else.”

On this form, Alves made the correct decision. He was in imperious form at the Juventus Stadium, while his counterpart, Sergi Roberto, struggled once again in the right wing-back position for Barcelona: a position Dani Alves is tailor-made for. Barcelona’s decision to allow him to leave on a free looks even more baffling now than it did seven months ago.

Neymar fluffs his lines

‘INEXCUSABLE’ screamed the front-page of one of the Spanish dailies the morning after Neymar got himself sent off against Malaga. That fury will only have been compounded by the news that Neymar’s ban had been suspended to three games because of dissent, thus ruling him out of El Clásico. Aggainst Juventus, Neymar desperately needed to deliver.

He didn’t. Although he saw far more of the ball than either Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez, he failed to register a single shot on target and was frequently out-muscled by Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. Although he did impressively jink past several tackles late on, he elected to pass the ball when he should have shot, and the opportunity to score a precious away goal was spurned.

The Brazilian will now surely need to match his outstanding performance in the second-leg of the tie against PSG if Barcelona are to progress.

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