The saying goes that lightning doesn’t strike twice, but for Barcelona that must happen tonight if they want to keep their Champions League dream alive.
The side that overturned a 4-0 first-leg defeat to Paris St Germain in the previous round have to find a way to turnaround a 3-0 first-leg loss to Juventus.
Few predicted the 6-1 victory last time – and it feels as though even fewer think they can record a winning result against the Italian champion this evening. But this is Barcelona, this is Lionel Messi, so is this possible?
We all know Barcelona aren’t shy of scoring a goal or many. Since the turn of the year Luis Enrique’s side have banged in four or more goals in a match on nine occasions.
Another positive stat they can look to is that they are on a 15-game European winning streak at the Nou Camp.
However, where PSG were noted for having a fragile defence, tonight’s opponents Juventus are rock solid. Leonardo Bonucci and Co have not conceded a single goal in their last three outings and boast the best defence in Serie A. In addition, they’ve conceded three goals in a match just once this season.
Barcelona are doing all they can to sway the tie in their favour and that includes a giant mosaic held up by the fans prior to kick-off. It will read ‘MORE THAN A CLUB’ in English, and they will hope it can help inspire their players to the big victory they need.
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique noted that the task is easier than it was against PSG – and told fans not to go home early.
‘This is a little similar to the PSG match but in theory we need to score fewer goals. Instead of four, just three to square things, but I think Juve will have their chances, so our objective is to score five.
‘We were here just a few weeks ago talking about a comeback, but we’re not accustomed to having to overturn a defeat. But if we score the first goal early, with the Camp Nou atmosphere the second and the third could come of their own accord.
‘Right now we’ve nothing to lose. There’s only one option: attack, attack, attack. Then, when we relax a little, attack some more. To the fans I’d say, don’t leave in the 80th minute because you’ll miss something for sure. This is another night to make history.’
Juventus manager Max Allegri is clearly eyeing goals for his team at the Nou Camp, and with first-leg hero Paulo Dybala confirmed fit to play, Barcelona’s defence have their work cut out.
Barcelona have three important strikers but I’m confident that my midfield and defence can contain them.
‘We have to be clever in how to choose when to attack, when to defend. I guess Barcelona haven’t changed much in a week – they are full of potential, something we knew in Turin. We need to be smart. We need to be clear-minded, technical and not think of the scoreline. We will go out to try and win again.
‘I don’t think Barcelona’s defensive weaknesses will have changed in a week. And we must capitalise on them.’
Neymar, who was inspirational in that comeback win over PSG, insists a repeat is possible
‘We have to believe we can do it,’ he told Canal Esporte Interativo. ‘We can be behind any team, but at Barcelona it’s always the same: We can do it.
‘If everything goes well, another comeback will happen. I believe in the team and in our potential.
‘Everything is lost, so we have nothing to lose and everything to win.’
It seems his team-mates share in that belief.