I know what you’re thinking: we’ve made this mistake before. Back in February, PSG took Barcelona to the cleaners. So much so that after the first leg, the Parisians were 4-0 up and headed to Camp Nou. We know how it ended, of course: Barcelona came storming back. Or perhaps more appropriately, PSG crumbled. Both can be true, but I’m going to lean towards the latter.
Which brings us to this past Tuesday. Barcelona is going to have to do it again if they want to reach the semifinals. And that’s because Juventus took it to them, ultimately winning 3-0 in what became a glorified squash match Tuesday afternoon. (Don’t pretend you don’t watch wrestling, you nerds). But we’ve seen this before, remember?
That means Barcelona is going to waltz into Camp Nou next Wednesday and score an obscene amount of goals against the Serie A leaders, right? Well… no, probably not. Look, Barcelona is Barcelona. We understand that. And we said this last time, but if any club is going to overturn this deficit, it’s them. Where there’s a three-headed monster of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suárez, there’s a way. Again, we understand that. But…
Juventus ain’t PSG, and that back line isn’t walking through the door. Where an aging, arguably declining Thiago Silva stood for PSG one month ago, Giorgio Chiellini stands now. Same age, sure, but twice the player. And where the 22-year-old Marquinhos stood? Well, you have Chiellini’s partner in crime, Leonardo Bonucci. Additionally, their midfield pairing of Miralem Pjanić and Sami Khedira. And we haven’t even mentioned their ageless goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, or the Argentinian forward being dubbed “The new Messi,” Paulo Dybala. (Let’s stop with those asinine labels, though, shall we?)
Remember, Dybala sometimes even sits behind another Argentinian—Gonzalo Higuaín—while on the pitch. We can keep doing this, but it’s simple: a very strong spine, a formidable midfield duo, and plenty of attacking firepower. And again, Buffon in between the posts. Look, Juventus isn’t going to concede six goals. Or five, for that matter. Or four, in all likelihood. They’re just not. There’s a fair bit of truth to the age-old stereotype of an Italian club being able to defend. And boy oh boy, can they.
Barcelona is certainly going to come after it next week, but Juve isn’t going to fret. Why should they? The similarities between PSG and Juve start and end here: both clubs pummeled Barcelona in the opening leg of a Champions League end round. That’s it. Unfortunately for Barcelona, Juventus is not PSG. They are much more disciplined and are a far superior tournament team.
Perhaps we were premature to suggest PSG had taken their big continental step forward. But next Wednesday, the Spanish giants face a far stiffer test. And I don’t believe Barcelona have another miraculous comeback in them.