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Barcelona fail to mount comeback as Juventus reach Champions League semi-finals

The Italian champions proved a more resolute prospect and a determined defensive showing in this quarter-final second leg secured a goalless draw.

FOOTBALL 20/04/17 09:26
Barcelona fail to mount comeback as Juventus reach Champions League semi-finals

Barcelona could not conjure another famous Champions League revival after Juventus held firm to secure their semi-final place thanks to a 3-0 aggregate victory.

The Catalan giants hit back from a 4-0 last-16 first-leg deficit to down Paris St Germain six weeks ago and they needed a comeback of similarly epic proportions at the Nou Camp on Wednesday after shipping three goals in Turin.

Lionel Messi twice missed the target with gilt-edged opportunities in either half but in the end, Barcelona left themselves with too much of a mountain to climb after being humbled last week.

A brace from Paulo Dybala and a goal from Giorgio Chiellini put Juventus on the brink of a last-four place, but they would have been well aware of their opponents’ comeback capabilities.

Juventus' Leonardo Bonucci celebrates victory after the final whistle
Juventus’ Leonardo Bonucci celebrates victory after the final whistle (Mike Egerton/EMPICS)

Having been down and out against PSG, Barcelona produced one of the best attacking displays the competition has ever seen to triumph 6-5 on aggregate last month.

But Juve, who had conceded only two goals in nine Champions League matches this season before Wednesday night, proved far more disciplined at the back.

They served notice they would not be content to simply sit back as Gonzalo Higuain lashed over after the ball had rebounded back into his path from Sergio Busquets’ attempted interception.

Juan Cuadrado then saw his overhead volley go over in an enterprising start for the visitors but Barcelona gradually started to gain a foothold of proceedings, pushing plenty of numbers forward.

They should have gone ahead in the 19th minute when a cross took a touch off Luis Suarez and rolled perfectly into the path of the oncoming Messi but he could only put his effort wide from 12 yards.

It was a significant let-off for Juventus and they were forced to sit deep as Barca continued to create chances with Neymar and then Sergi Roberto – their matchwinner against PSG – volleying over.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi attempts a shot
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi attempts a shot (Mike Egerton/EMPICS)

But Barcelona were being given precious little space in the final third and although Messi finally tested Gianluigi Buffon, who parried away the deflected effort, Juventus rarely looked overexerted.

Indeed, they perhaps should have gone ahead at the interval but Higuain could not direct Miralem Pjanic’s lob past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The hosts ended the half in a foul mood after Neymar was booked for an impetuous barge on Pjanic, whose aerial challenge on Messi seconds earlier led to the Argentinian faceplanting the floor.

Their mood nearly worsened just after the interval but Cuadrado, in acres of space on the right, dragged his strike across goal while at the other end Messi cut onto his left foot and fired just wide of Buffon’s right hand post.

A fourth Barcelona forward in Paco Alcacer was introduced just before the hour mark as boss Luis Enrique went for broke.

And Juventus were given another warning in the 67th minute when the luckless Messi volleyed over with Buffon in no man’s land after failing to cut out a corner, with Barcelona, by this point, dominating possession and territory.

Neymar’s cross just evaded the touch of substitute Javier Mascherano but Buffon still needed to get down quickly to push to safety and slowly Barcelona began to run out of steam.

They had scored three times in the final seven minutes against PSG but there was no hint of anything similar this time as Juventus cruised into the last four.

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