Juventus vs Barcelona: ICC Match Preview
Name: FC Barcelona
Home ground: Camp Nou
Coach: Ernesto Valverde
LAST TIME OUT
Juventus fans only have to look back to last season for their team’s previous encounter against Barcelona, the Bianconeri romping to a 3-0 aggregate victory in an unforgettable Champions League quarter-final in April.
Two eye-catching strikes by Paulo Dybala and a thumping header from Giorgio Chiellini sealed a 3-0 first-leg win at the now Allianz Stadium. Then, a hard-fought 0-0 draw in the return fixture at the Camp Nou proved enough to see the Old Lady through to the next round.
NEW ERA AT CAMP NOU
After three seasons at the Barcelona helm, Luis Enrique took the decision to step down in the summer and was replaced by another former player in Ernesto Valverde.
Valverde joins the club after a four-year spell at Athletic Bilbao, where his highlights included leading them to a fourth-place finish and subsequent Champions League qualification. He also steered Athletic to their second Supercopa trophy in the club’s history after defeating his current team Barcelona in the final (5-1 on aggregate).
As well as coaching Bilbao, Valverde previously managed other Spanish sides, Valencia, Villarreal and Espanyol. In addition, he has experience in winning league titles having won the Superleague Greece on three occasions with Olympiacos.
SHAPING UP FOR NEXT SEASON
There will be a familiar face at Valverde’s disposal, as former youth-team product, Gerard Deulofeu has re-joined the club from Everton. Juventus fans may remember Deulofeu making his debut for AC Milan against Juventus in the Coppa Italia quarter-final last season, at the start of a loan spell with the Rossoneri.
The Blaugrana’s new coach will be hoping that he can improve upon last year’s fortunes in his maiden season in charge and, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar at his disposal, he can call upon one of the most potent strike forces in football.
STADIUM STATS & FACTS
vs Barcelona (Saturday 22 July, 18:00 local; Sunday 23 July, 00:00 CEST)
Where: MetLife Stadium; East Rutherford, New Jersey
Home team(s): New York Giants (NFL), New York Jets (NFL)
About: Opened in 2010, MetLife Stadium has been the home to some of the biggest sporting events in the world over the past seven years. In 2014, MetLife Stadium hosted Super Bowl XLVII won by the Seattle Seahawks, while in 2016 the Copa America Centenario final between Chile and Argentina saw the former take home their first Copa America in a dramatic penalty shootout.
Get ready to rumble: MetLife Stadium hosted Wrestlemania 29 on 7 April, 2013. In the main event, John Cena challenged The Rock in front of over 80,000 fans.
BACK TO THE STATES
This trip marks Juventus’ third visit to the United States after previous pre-season trips, prior to the commencement of the 2003/04 and 2013/04 seasons. After facing Barcelona, Juventus will then head to Miami to face Paris Saint-Germain on 26 July, before heading to Boston to take on Serie A rivals Roma four days later.
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