After being dumped out of last season’s Champions League by Juventus, Barcelona exacted revenge in their opening contest of this year’s competition thanks to a wondrous performance from Lionel Messi in a stylish 3-0 victory at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
The Blaugrana were played off the park by the Italians in the quarter-finals last campaign, as the 3-0 aggregate scoreline left no doubt as to who the better side was.
Unfortunately for Massimiliano Allegri’s men, the same can be said about Tuesday’s contest. Messi collected two goals – his first ever against Gianluigi Buffon – and also played a key role in Ivan Rakitic’s strike as Barcelona showed they are still a force to be reckoned with, even without the departed Neymar.
It all started so well for Juventus, as it was the Italian side who nearly struck first thanks to an unlikely source. Mattia De Sciglio’s effort from distance after six minutes was tipped away by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, though no corner was given.
Paulo Dybala fired straight at the German on a counter, while Miralem Pjanic saw his his attempt beat away as the Italian side continued their attack on the Blaugrana goal.
However the home side carved out a few chances of their own, as Messi lined up for a freekick in the 20th minute. His attempt was blocked by the wall, but the rebound fell to Luis Suarez, and the Uruguayan’s stinging drive was expertly pushed over the bar by Buffon.
Ousmane Dembele fired wide of the mark while under pressure from Diego Costa, but the breakthrough finally came just before half-time thanks to an inspired Messi.
The Argentine ended his taboo against the Italian goalkeeper in style, completing a give-and go with Suarez just outside the area, before firing a low drive into the bottom corner that left Buffon with no chance.
Messi’s goal seemed to light a fire in Barcelona’s belly, as they came out with a renewed sense of purpose after the restart. In fact, it was the Argentine who nearly made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute as his drive from distance came off the bar, hit Buffon and went out for a corner.
However it didn’t take long for Messi to conjure up some more magic, as four minutes later he darted down the right and fired on goal.
His effort was cleared away by Stefano Sturaro, but the ball fell to Rakitic who fired home past a helpless Buffon to the delight of the home fans.
The rout was well and truly on in the 69th minute, as Messi slalomed past a static Juve backline and fired the ball low into the bottom corner to make it 3-0 for the home side.
Suarez saw a goal called back due to offside, while Gerard Pique cleared Mehdi Benatia’s header off the line before proceedings were mercifully brought to the end for the shell-shocked away side.
Juventus will now look to get their European campaign back on track against Olympiacos on September 27, while Messi will try to make it two wins from as many matches for Barcelona when they take on Sporting CP.
- This is the first time Juventus have conceded three goals in a Champions League group stage match since December 2009 (vs Bayern Munich).
- Eight of the last nine goals Juventus have conceded in the Champions League have come against Spanish sides (Sevilla, Real Madrid, Barcelona).
- Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 12 home matches in the Champions League against Italian clubs (9W, 3D): the Catalans have scored 30 goals in those matches.
- First goal for Lionel Messi against Gianluigi Buffon in the Champions League: the Argentine now sits on 96 goals in the competition, 12 of which have come against Italian clubs (2 Juventus, 8 AC Milan, 2 Roma).
- Messi scored his first goal with his first touch in the opposing penalty area.
- Paulo Dybala was involved in the most chances in this match, seven (four shots and three chances created).