Sometimes, things just end up being a perfect storm.
And the bad thing is that said perfect storm doesn’t always go in your team’s favor.
That was exactly what happened at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night. Barcelona, still one of the best teams around, looked far from the squad that fell to Juventus in the quarterfinals of the Champions League last season. It was the same 3-0 scoreline this time around, but with Lionel Messi scoring a brace and finally breaking his personal duck against Gianluigi Buffon in Barca’s 3-0 win over the reigning Italian champions.
So why was it a perfect storm?
- Well, one could look at the starting lineup Max Allegri trotted out there to begin with.
- As Barcelona’s attack kicked things into gear, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain became more and more isolated and disjointed up top.
- That defensive lineup against an in-form Messi? Yeah, they had no chance.
I couldn’t help but think after Messi scored his second, rolling right past Medhi Benatia in the process, it pretty much summed up how the two teams looked once Barcelona scored their opening goal right before the half.
As one team executed a fast and beautiful counterattack to put the final nail in the other’s coffin, most of Juventus’ outfield players were on the other side of the field trying to figure out how the hell they weren’t able to break down Barcelona’s defense ... again. Buffon had no chance on the goal just as he did on the previous two.
It was that kind of night.
Juventus started brightly, could have had a goal on a few different occasions, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen was never truly tested. (Except for that whole save he made that wasn’t ruled a corner even though you could see him tip the ball out for a corner.)
Yeah, that kind of night.
Miralem Pjanic said Juventus “could have done better,” and it’s pretty hard to disagree with him there. (There wasn’t much else to say about that.)
Personal opinion, I liked the 3-0 game against Barcelona in Turin last season a whole lot more than this one. If only I could pinpoint why...
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Pregame thought No. 1: RODRIGO BENTANCUR RODRIGO BENTANCUR RODRIGO BENTANCUR RODRIGO BENTANCUR RODRIGO BENTANCUR RODRIGO BENTANCUR
- Pregame thought No. 2: Daniele Rugani can start Juve’s first three Serie A games of the season, look good over that span, yet finds himself on the bench for the Champions League opener? I don’t get it.
- Halftime thought: It’s good to know that in a game where you know you’re going to have to defend well against a world-class attack, Allegri went with a midfielder to play right back instead of an actual defender like Rugani and then shift Andrea Barzagli over to the right. I’m not saying Stefano Sturaro is the reason Juventus lost, but to leave your best available central defender on the bench for the entire 90 was not a good look.
- No Rugani and Benatia having a disaster of a second half didn’t really do anything to make me think that the latter really needs to not be starting.
- Nobody could have predicted that Mattia De Sciglio would have had to come off in the first half due to injury, but it sure would have been nice to have another natural right back available off the bench. I’m not sayin’, but I’m just sayin’...
- On top of all that, this game proved that Benedikt Howedes is going to be incredibly important to Juventus’ success this season. It’s become pretty clear that both Benatia and Andrea Barzagli aren’t up for regular starting roles anymore.
- Basically, it was like Juventus, sans Alex Sandro rolled out a second-string defense to face one of the best attacking teams there is these days. Shocking that it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, huh?
- I miss the Alex Sandro of old where he’s causing all kinds of havoc on the left wing. It’s been a very quiet start to the season for him. I don’t think anybody can deny that.
- The Rodrigo Bentancur debut was an interesting one, to say the least. He had some really good moments, but then he stopped tracking Messi on the opening goal, did the same kind of thing on Barca’s second and it started to outweigh the good he’d done. The boy will be really good, but there will be some growing pains along the way.
- Here is one of the biggest stats that jumps off the (web)page for me: Gonzalo Higuain had 24 touches. Gianluigi Buffon had 23 touches. You want a reason as to why Higuain barely had his name called at all and could only muster one singular scoring chance, there you go.
- That’s pretty everything that needs to be said for now. There’s only so much you can do when looking at a bad 3-0 loss on the European stage.