Juventus
    Juventus
      19.04.2017 23:07 - in: Match report S

      Italian Job prevails as Juve reach semis!

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      The Bianconeri seal a place in the Champions League semi-finals after a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou and 3-0 aggregate win over Barcelona

      Juventus booked their place in the Champions League semi-finals at the Camp Nou with a 0-0 draw that saw them run out 3-0 winners on aggregate against Barcelona.

      Few goalless stalemates will ever be celebrated as fervently as tonight’s, but this was the sort of ‘Italian Job’, masterminded perfectly by Massimiliano Allegri, that was required to prevent the Catalan giants from springing the comeback victory they craved in front of their 100,000 or so fans in attendance on Wednesday night.

      This win did not merely boil down to defensive strength, as Juve saw out their eighth clean sheet in 10 Champions League matches this season, but sheer solidity from back to front.

      Toe to toe from word go

      The Bianconeri entered the match knowing they couldn’t simply sit back and defend their first-leg lead and they found their feet immediately with some early pressure in and around the Barca box.

      On 13 minutes Gonzalo Higuain tried his luck with a first-time shot that sailed whiskers wide of Andre ter Stegen’s near post and, moments later, Gerard Pique would need to make a last-ditch interception on Juan Cuadrado’s cross, destined for Paulo Dybala in space by the penalty spot, following a classic counter-attack down Juve’s right side.

      From the quarter-hour mark however, Barca began an onslaught on the visitors’ 18-yard box: first Jordi Alba knocked the ball out for a goal-kick from a dangerous position after latching on to Lionel Messi’s telepathic pass forwards. Then Messi himself spurned the best chance of the half, shooting uncharacteristically wide with his famed left foot.

      End to end action continues

      Away days in the Champions League would not be the same without Gianluigi Buffon’s heroics and Juve’s Numero Uno duly intervened after 30 minutes with a fine block on a deflected Messi strike, swerving menacingly towards his bottom corner.

      After the Bianconeri had weathered that lengthy Barca storm, Higuain, picked out by Miralem Pjanic’s perfectly lofted pass, had the chance to score a much coveted away goal, but volleyed straight at ter Stegen from close range.

      Goalless at the break, both sides knocked on the door early in the second period. Cuadrado twice had Barca hearts in mouths, as he fired whiskers wide and then struck the side netting with a pair of venomous efforts from the right.

      Down the other end meanwhile, the hosts kept pressing for an opener and Messi was at the heart of it all, the Argentine forward very nearly finding Buffon’s far corner with a vintage left-footed curler before hooking over the bar with his right boot from just a few yards out and the goal seemingly at his mercy.

      Bianconeri hold firm

      This was Juve’s night. Their defence, perfectly positioned throughout, began to limit the hosts to shots from relative range, Sergi Roberto bending around the upright from the edge of the box, and Buffon came to the fore once more to parry a threatening cross away from the clutches of Javier Mascherano.

      With the clock ticking down towards full-time, Barca began to run out of ideas as their task quickly entered the realm of mission impossible.

      Meanwhile, Allegri and company had finished the job they’d set out to do to the letter.

      Now, eyes turn to Friday’s semi-final draw in Nyon where Juve’s opponent in the Champions League final four will be revealed.

      The Bianconeri’s European adventure roars on.

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