UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2017
Barcelona vs Juventus
Every Barca fan in Camp Nou was there for only one reason, Comeback part 2, but unfortunately for them, no such thing happened this time, no repetition of that night against Paris Saint-Germain, no sign of the “madness” that Luis Enrique had hoped for.
As the final seconds slipped away, Barca fans waved off flags all around the Camp Nou stadium. There was no recrimination and they had appreciated the effort, witnessing their team pile up 17 shots, but it felt like the end of an era and they had long known that it was a lost cause: ultimately, the quarter-final was decided in the opening 22 minutes in Turin. “I will remember that first half for ever and ever,” Luis Enrique said.
This was his last Champions League game as Barcelona coach and the first time he had seen them fail to win at Camp Nou, resulting in Juventus going through to the semi-finals instead. They had deserved it, Luis Enrique conceded after the Italians went through 3-0 on aggregate with a 0-0 draw here.
It is 21 years since Juventus won the European Cup and they must be considered contenders. “We’re in the semi-final but it’s not over yet,” Allegri said. His side is one of real assurance that felt in control and has variety: here they defended, at home, they had attacked. When Barcelona did have opportunities, they could not take them.
“We weren’t worried, except for one shot,” Allegri added. Of the 17 Barcelona took, most were inoffensive, and only one was on target. Lionel Messi took that and six more. With two in particular, he might have expected to score, one in each half, but he departed with a black eye and no goals.
Luis Enrique had vowed to “attack, attack, attack, and then when it is time to rest, attack and attack”. The problem was that Juventus do not mind having to defend, defend, defend, and then defend some more. They do it so well and have conceded only two goals in this season’s competition.
After an opening 15 minutes in which they stepped up, Gonzalo Higuaín getting the game’s first chance, they settled in.
The momentum built. Gianluigi Buffon saved from Messi, who slammed the rebound into the side-netting. Suárez shot went wide. If the chances were not always clear-cut – Messi’s apart – they were growing in number; by half-time Barcelona had taken nine shots, and the ball had been in their possession, 63% of the time. Juventus broke when they could, Higuaín sliding in to connect with a low volley from close range.
Half-time was a watershed. Emotionally, Barcelona had needed a goal by then and the countdown began, the clock running away from them. Juventus stood firm and Barça’s energy was likely to drop. This was always going to be harder than against PSG: Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci are no easy pair to pass in defence, even when midfielders Sami Khedira and Miralem Pjanic could be overcome, which was not often. Behind them was Buffon, who Messi has never scored against.
The truth, though, was that while shots arrived, they rarely troubled the veteran goalkeeper. At the other end, Juan Cuadrado went close at the near post. So often Juventus’s outlet, he had already fired one warning; this was another.
With two minutes to go Barcelona chased the fourth official appealing for a penalty, but the protest was in vain same as the previous 90 minutes had been, too. They had needed three goals and couldn’t get one – not here and not in Turin. Finding a way past Juventus proved an impossible task that Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid and Monaco will not relish.
AC Monaco vs Borussia Dortmund
In the second game all Monaco needed to dominate the game came just in a span of 3 minutes when Mbappe scored from a rebound shot thus putting Monaco in the driving seat, Radamel Falcao headed in soon after to all but put the tie beyond Dortmund.
The Bundesliga outfit threw on exciting forward Ousmane Dembele and it was a fantastic run from the 19-year-old that set up Marco Reus to lash in after the break.
But substitute Valere Germain scored 22 seconds after coming off the bench for the hosts to secure their spot in the last four.
Monaco will discover their semi-final opponents when the draw is made on Friday, with Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Juventus also progressing.