While there haven’t been many at Juventus’ still relatively new stadium over the last six years, big-time European nights at Allianz Stadium just seem right. It’s one of the prettiest stadiums all of Europe has to offer and the crowd only seems to rise to the moment when another big European opponent comes to town.
The place of the competition may be different as compared to the last time Barcelona made its way to Turin, but it sure sounds like another big-time European night for Juventus to me.
We know Juventus can advance to the knockout round with a positive result — and potentially some help if need be — because that’s how it was the last time they played a Champions League game. That one didn’t go so well, with another so-so display on the European stage highlighting just how much Max Allegri’s team is far from a finished product at this time.
To try and beat Barcelona, Juventus will have to be better than they were over the weekend against Sampdoria. (Well, in the second half, that is.) Juventus will have to be better in either game against Sporting. And they most certainly will have to be better than they were two months ago when they lost 3-0 to Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
If they can actually do that seems to be the No. 1 thing on a lot of people’s mind entering tonight’s game.
This is where Juventus can make a statement that their performances — and, to a lesser extent, the results — were just part of early-season struggles that some teams go through before they truly hit their stride. A good performance against Barcelona may well quell a lot of the talk about how Juve’s run of six straight Scudetti may well be in jeopardy with the way they are playing. And it could very well be the starting point where they turn this whole thing around and start going in the right direction.
We can all hope that’s the case.
But they’re going to have to show us on the field before we’re convinced.
That chance is tonight against one of the best teams going these days. If Juventus puts in a good performance against Barcelona, I sure as hell hope it can be the starting point of something really, really good. Oh, and get the whole waiting game in regard to whether Juve will wrap up their knockout round spot over with, too.
What fun there might be had during this latest big-time European night in Turin.
Location: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy
Kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy; 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:45 p.m. on the East Coast; 11:45 a.m. on the West Coast
Juventus starting XI (3-4-3?): Buffon; Rugani, Barzagli, Benatia; Cuadrado, Pjanic, Khedira, Alex Sandro; Dybala, Douglas Costa; Higuain
Juventus bench: Szczesny, De Sciglio, Marchisio, Matuidi, Asamoah, Bentancur, Mandzukic
Barcelona starting XI (4-4-2): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Digne; Paulinho, Sergio Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Deulofeu, L Suarez
Barcelona bench: Cillessen, D Suarez, Messi, Alcacer, Alba, Aleix Vidal, Vermaelen
TV: Fox Sports 1 USA, ESPN Deportes USA, (United States); TSN4, RDS 2 (Canada); BT Sport ESPN (United Kingdom); PremiumSport HD (Italy)
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