Two years after falling at the hands of Barcelona in the Champions League final, Juventus hosted the Catalan giants at the Juventus Stadium and prevailed in dominant fashion.
Here’s how we rated Juventus’ 3-0 win over Barcelona.
Gianluigi Buffon (7.0): The mark of a world class goalkeeper is one who despite not having much to do all game, performs admirably when called upon. Tonight, Gigi Buffon did just that and answered the bell twice from in close, once in the first half against Andres Iniesta and another time in the second half against Luis Suarez. The bianconeri would score just minutes after Buffon’s save on Iniesta, further highlighting the importance of his save.
Dani Alves (7.0): The Brazilian was brought in for nights like these and put in a brilliant performance against his former employers. Pocketed the in-form Neymar on the left wing and was utterly dominant going forward linking up with Cuadrado.
Leonardo Bonucci (6.5): A truly veteran performance from the former Bari man as he and his teammates looked to lock down the elusive trio of MSN. Made one phenomenal last-ditch tackle on Suarez in the second half to keep the Uruguayan from going in on goal, which typified his performance on the night.
Giorgio Chiellini (8.0): Fresh off receiving a Masters degree in business this past week, Chiellini rolled back the years with a vintage performance. The defender was his typically bullish self in defence and made a number of crucial challenges. Whether it’s on the classroom or on the pitch, Chiellini has had a great week.
Alex Sandro (7.5): Tasked with shutting down Messi, Alex Sandro needed to show up tonight. And show up he did, as the Brazilian barely put a foot wrong on the left and much like Dani Alves, caused Barcelona all sorts of problems going forward.
Miralem Pjanic (7.0): Many, including myself, were skeptical of Pjanic’s ability to put in a shift in the double pivot, however, the Bosnian proved his doubters wrong tonight. Pjanic was instrumental in Juve’s buildup play and broke up the Spaniards’ attacks on more than one occasion.
Sami Khedira (6.5): The German international put in yet another solid but unspectacular performance alongside Pjanic. Whether he was leading the press, dropping deep to intercept or driving his side forward in possession, Khedira did a bit of everything against Barcelona. However, he wasted a few occasions when dribbling and will look to eradicate that from his game in the second leg.
Juan Cuadrado (6.5): The Colombian posed a constant threat down the right hand side and made the most of Jordi Alba’s absence at left back. Cuadrado did well to dribble into the box and find an open Dybala on the first goal.
Paulo Dybala (8.5) MOTM – An Argentine stole the show tonight and his name wasn’t Lionel Messi. With the eyes of the world on him, Dybala stepped up and fired his side ahead with a wonderfully-curled effort in the seventh minute. As if that wasn’t enough, the former Palermo man doubled his side’s lead with a well-struck one-timer in the twenty second minute. Outside of his brace, Dybala dictated the tempo of the game and caused mayhem between the lines. The next Messi? Nah, it’s simply the first Paulo Dybala.
Mario Mandzukic (6.5) – A true workaholic’s performance from the Croatian international down the left. Despite not getting on the scoresheet, Mandzukic bullied the left flank both defensively and aerially and was a spark plug for Juventus’ attack. Unselfish.
Gonzalo Higuani (6.0) – While it went unnoticed by many, Higuain’s cross-field pass to Cuadrado on the first goal was integral to the move. Otherwise, the former Real Madrid man linked up well with his teammates and did a good job holding up the ball against Pique and Umtiti. However, he will be kicking himself for missing a golden chance after beating Barca’s offside trap early in the second half. Instead, his effort struck Ter Stegen in the chest and nothing came from it. All in all, it was a decent performance from the 29-year-old.
Andrea Barzagli (N/A): Came on to seal the three goal lead and did just that.
Mario Lemina (N/A): The Gabon international came on for Cuadrado late in the second half and didn’t do anything of note.
Tomas Rincon (N/A): Rincon came on to provide steel in the middle of the park but caused more trouble than he did good. Conceded a dangerous free kick late in the second half but luckily for him, Messi’s effort hit the wall.