Juventus secured a comfortable 3-0 victory over Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Tuesday to leapfrog their opponents into top spot of Group G in the Champions League.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot, either side of an acrobatic Winston McKennie volley, as the Bianconeri finished the group stage above their Spanish hosts.
Battle of the superstars sees one winner
In what was billed as a clash between the two best footballers on the planet, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi was slightly underwhelming. The former was not at his sparkling best and endured quiet patches, but his surging run into the area earned Juventus a somewhat dubious penalty early on.
The Portuguese showed his mettle to beat Marc-Andre Ter Stegen twice from the spot to move his side into pole position, and whilst Messi showcased some magnificent close control, he was unable to find a way beyond a determined Buffon. Indeed, his seven shots on target without a goal are the highest in a Champions League match since 2003/04.
In a first encounter between the pair in over two years, Ronaldo came out on top whilst Messi was left cutting a frustrated figure, and not for the first time this season.
Juventus put domestic fragility behind them on European stage
Whilst it has been far from plain sailing in Serie A, Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo has navigated through a testing Champions League group to finish top in his first campaign in the dugout.
Laboured performances in draws against Benevento, Hellas Verona and Crotone have proved costly domestically, and the Bianconeri needed a late, and entirely predictable, Torino collapse to win the Derby della Mole at the weekend.
Yet in the Champions League, Juventus bounced back from an early defeat against Barcelona to march through their group, with comprehensive victories over Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros setting up this crucial clash against Barca.
Pirlo has shown greater guile on the European front and his side exploited Barcelona’s fragility, particularly in midfield, on Tuesday to secure the win. If the Bianconeri to transfer this form to Serie A then a defence of their Scudetto may not seem out of reach.