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UEFA CL: Juve hold Barcelona at Camp Nou to reach semis

Champions League By: Collins Udeme | 19/04/2017

Juve hold Barcelona at Camp Nou to reach UEFA CL semis

Juventus qualified for the semi-final of the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League campaign at the expense of Barcelona after 0-0 draw at Camp Nou on Wednesday, securing a final four spot with a 3-0 aggregate win.

Barcelona reverted back to a 4-3-3 formation for Wednesday's crucial Champions League quarter final second leg clash against Juventus.

Jordi Alba returned to the side with Sergi Roberto starting as right-back, with Javier Mascherano dropping to the bench despite passing a late fitness test. As expected, Neymar returned to the line-up following his suspension against Real Sociedad on Saturday to play alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Juventus were unchanged from their 3-0 triumph last week with the big team news being star forward Paulo Dybala being passing fit to lead the line alongside Gonzalo Higuain, while Dani Alves made his return to Camp Nou for the first time since his departure last summer.

First Half

Barcelona’s chances of another remarkable comeback grew increasingly slimmer after a goalless first half against Juventus at Camp Nou.

Juventus made the brighter start to the match, pressing Barca high up the pitch and not allowing them to settle – in the exact manner that Paris Saint-Germain failed to do in the previous round.

Leonardo Bonucci’s clipped free-kick found Gonzalo Higuain but the striker could not connect fully and the effort was easily saved by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, and in the twelfth minute the Argentine striker blazed over from just inside the area in the first real opportunity.

Luis Enrique’s side quickly grew into the game – Ivan Rakitic blazed over moments after Gerard Pique’s excellent tracked run and challenging on Juan Cuadrado, while Lionel Messi blazed wide from twelve yards after Luis Suarez’s effort was initially blocked.
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The hosts exploited Juve’s right flank with Jordi Alba continually finding space behind Dani Alves – firstly just missing a Messi lobbed ball and then cutting back to Neymar, who’s curled effort went just wide.

Referee Bjorn Kuipers let the game flow as much as possible but Andres Iniesta and Neymar were both booked late on in the half for robust challenges.

Second Half

The Italian champions sat deeper in the second period – an early counter attack culminated in the Colombian Cuadrado dragging his shot wide of goal when well placed, but largely the hosts were dominant in possession and wayward in finishing.

Neymar and Messi’s early efforts both failed to trouble Buffon before the Italian international made a fingertip save to tip the Argentine’s effort – headed for the bottom corner – around the post.

Messi then curled his free-kick inches over before Ter Stegen was almost caught out at the other end; scrambling back desperately to tip away a deflected Pjanic shot after Sergio Busquets had been caught in possession.

The hosts continued to be uncharacteristically wasteful – Buffon could only punch a corner across goal but Messi’s hooked attempt went over.

Javier Mascherano – who had never before scored in over 300 appearances for the club - was introduced with 13 minutes remaining and was almost immediately thwarted by the ever-reliable Buffon at point-blank range.

But it wasn’t to be for Barca who’s comeback against Paris Saint-Germain was not repeated and the Turin-based side advance into the last four.
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