Juventus have been used to dominating in their native Italy, having won an incredible five straight Serie A crowns in recent seasons. The Old Lady have been a rampant force in the country’s top tier division year after year, and are looking increasingly likely of securing a sixth successive domestic crown this current campaign.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side are unlikely to have it all their own way in their upcoming Champions League quarter-final encounter, though. The Italian giants would have been confident of edging past any of the other current contenders in the Europe’s elite club competition, but seeing Barcelona’s name pop up in the draw must surely have caused some distress.
In the last-eight match, Juventus will attempt to do what French champions PSG could not and overcome Luis Enrique’s men across two legs.
The Parisians had begun brightly in the first leg, remarkably thumping Barca 4-0 in front of their own supporters at the Parc des Princes. However, their ecstasy quickly turned to dismay as Barcelona produced arguably the greatest comeback in European football history.
Despite taking to the Nou Camp with a four-goal deficit to overcome, the Catalan club rallied to a remarkable 6-1 success on home soil. Goals from Luis Suarez, Layvin Kurzawa (own goal), Neymar, Lionel Messi and Seri Roberto capped off an incredible night in Spain, as they edged into the final eight with a 6-5 aggregate triumph.
Previous PSG win a blueprint for Juventus
Juventus can look back on that historic second leg for key points on how not to defend against Barcelona, but it’s the first encounter with PSG that will provide them with the most compelling blueprint on how to get the better of such a talented roster.
The Italians are huge odds-on favourites in the Serie A betting with bet365 to earn another title triumph this term. However, that means nothing when it comes to lining up against a rejuvenated Catalans outfit in Europe, who are also battling for league supremacy themselves in La Liga.
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With a heavy reliance on their front three of Messi, Neymar and Suarez, it would seem evidently beneficial to try and halt them from the backline and maybe rough the South American trio up early.
But PSG proved that this doesn’t need to be the case to gain the upper hand. Instead, crowding the midfield and cutting off their impact from the source is fundamental when aiming to limit attacking danger.
Xavi Hernandez is now gone and Andres Iniesta is an ageing force in the central areas, while the likes of Javier Mascherano and Sergi Busquets aren’t the most dynamic, either.
If Allegri can cut off the Barca midfield, or limit them as much as possible, from delivering the ball to that deadly front three, then they stand a chance of progressing.
Midfield battle key to success
Engaging in a central battle and crowding out the likes of Iniesta from getting in possession and picking out Messi, Neymar and Suarez will go a long way in helping Juve earn a famous victory in the tie.
It means their midfield stars such as Sami Khedira, Miralem Pjanic and Claudio Marchisio, among others, will need to be at their athletic best to halt such central threats.
PSG proved that cutting off the source of creativity for Barcelona’s attacking trio can have frustrating consequences for their imminent opponents, and it’s something Allegri will surely try to achieve in the upcoming clash.