Juventus needed to beat Barcelona by two clear goals and any other result except 2-0 was going to get it done - mission accomplished. In a game that will go down in club lore, the Bianconeri were efficient and resolute as they frustrated their hosts to come away with a 3-0 result that sees them top Group G and likely to receive a possibly more favorable draw in the knockout rounds of the Champions League.
Speaking after the game, coach Andrea Pirlo was satisfied with his side’s performance in the victory.
“It was important for our journey that we pick up where we left off in the derby. When you start with that focus, concentration and determination, then the quality emerges.
“We had prepared the match to create superiority in midfield with three against their two, the midfielders like Weston McKennie able to push up, as we knew they had difficulty stopping them pushing up through the middle.
“The tactical plan worked and then the players did really well to make the most of the scoring opportunities.”
Before the game this game had been touted as the last battle between two all-time footballing greats, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Indeed, with Juve’s backs to the wall as they defended ferociously late on, Ronaldo was responsible for an excellent takeaway in his own box as he came between the Argentine and the ball to prevent a shooting opportunity.
“Ronaldo was very motivated to put in a good performance here against his eternal rival, so when you’re that motivated, it becomes simple.
“There are many games in a season and it’s easier to get fired up for fixtures like this, but we mustn’t lose sight of the real target, which is Serie A, so we have to be this concentrated and committed there too.”
Legend Gianluigi Buffon was given the opportunity to play today and did not disappoint, keeping Messi and his cohorts at bay and was awarded with a rare clean sheet at the Nou Camp.
Speaking after the game, the 42-year-old talked about rolling back the years tonight, and how this was karmic retribution for Juve going out of this very competition at the Bernabeu after Real Madrid were given a late penalty and Buffon was sent off for his protestations with referee Michael Oliver.
“It is a confidence booster for us, one not to be underestimated, as we came here as underdogs and overturned the 2-0 first leg result to win 3-0. That’s extraordinary,.
“I believe in fate, so I think things don’t happen by fluke, I believe life compensates you. The last time we were winning 3-0 in Madrid and it ended 3-1. This time we were winning 3-0 and took that result home. I think this is a good position to be in.”
Juve have saved their best for the better teams they have faced this season, and Buffon was asked why this is so?
“There are going to be ups and downs in your journey, at times you need some performances that are below par in order to grow. Our objective must be to find a precise identity, a soul, because without soul, you can’t even win at table football.
“When we are able to express ourselves to the maximum of our capability, we are a truly strong team.”
With no fans in the stands Buffon’s voice rang loud and clear often - is that the kind of leadership he brings to the team that the regular starter Wojciech Szczeszny lacks?
“It’s not right to make comparisons with the past. Every season is different and unique. Clearly, the talking is also trying to find that identity, as we do it to help teammates and in the end, that becomes contagious. If we can improve that communication, I think it’s getting through another step in the process.”