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Barcelona look for Champions League revenge over Juventus

Juventus inflicted misery on Barcelona last season. 

Barca were flatlining on the operating table against Paris Saint-Germain only to come back from the dead in the Champions League last-16.

And for what? Juventus beat them 3-0 in the first leg of the next round and then held them to a 0-0 draw in the second leg. 

Juventus' Paulo Dybala helped put Barcelona to the sword in last season's Champions League

Juventus' Paulo Dybala helped put Barcelona to the sword in last season's Champions League

Juventus’ Paulo Dybala helped put Barcelona to the sword in last season’s Champions League

The La Liga giants had beaten Paris Saint-Germain only to lose 3-0 on aggregate to Juventus

The La Liga giants had beaten Paris Saint-Germain only to lose 3-0 on aggregate to Juventus

The La Liga giants had beaten Paris Saint-Germain only to lose 3-0 on aggregate to Juventus

The 5-4 PSG win had been one for the record books but it would count for nothing in terms of trophies. Barcelona still went out of the Champions League.

On Tuesday night at the Nou Camp, Barca can take revenge on Massimiliano Allegri’s team. And also go some way to confirming a decision they made this summer that Ousmane Dembele and not Paulo Dybala would be the man they would buy to replace Neymar.

Dybala has changed agents since the window closed putting brother Mariano in charge of his affairs in Europe and apparently ending his working relationship with Pierpaolo Triulzi. It’s unclear if him not ending up at the Nou Camp a month early as being behind the decision.

Barca considered Dybala but his characteristics were seen as too similar to Lionel Messi’s. He played in the same part of the pitch as Messi. They wanted direct running, pace and the dribbling ability to open teams up and force their defensive line back. 

Earlier this summer Barcelona lost Brazilian Neymar to PSG for a world-record fee of £198m

Earlier this summer Barcelona lost Brazilian Neymar to PSG for a world-record fee of £198m

Earlier this summer Barcelona lost Brazilian Neymar to PSG for a world-record fee of £198m

They replaced him with France forward Ousmane Dembele. The 20-year-old cost them £96m

They replaced him with France forward Ousmane Dembele. The 20-year-old cost them £96m

They replaced him with France forward Ousmane Dembele. The 20-year-old cost them £96m

The between the lines trickery of Dybala was less of an option because it duplicated something that Messi already offers. They wanted someone who could stretch teams the way Neymar had and that is why they preferred the French 20-year-old over Messi’s Argentine team-mate.

Dybala stayed in Turin and they gave him their famous number ten shirt as a reward. Something that went someway to confirming the reasons behind Barcelona’s decision – he’s more a Messi than a Neymar.

For all that happened this summer the Barcelona team that took to the pitch against Juventus for that second leg Champions League quarter-final will actually be only marginally changed when the two sides do battle again on Tuesday evening.

The Catalan giants considered a move for Argentina forward Dybala but decided against it

The Catalan giants considered a move for Argentina forward Dybala but decided against it

The Catalan giants considered a move for Argentina forward Dybala but decided against it

The 23-year-old's characteristics were considered too similar to those of forward Lionel Messi

The 23-year-old's characteristics were considered too similar to those of forward Lionel Messi

The 23-year-old’s characteristics were considered too similar to those of forward Lionel Messi

Marc Andre ter Stegen stays in goal and Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Jordi Alba continue in defence. Sergio Busquets will join Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta in midfield and Luis Suarez and Messi continue up front. Nelson Semedo comes in for Sergio Roberto at right back and Dembele replaces Neymar in the only two changes between this season and last.

Things certainly worked well at the weekend. The 20-year-old’s first time assist to Suarez was perfect and duly dispatched. In last season’s Champions League Dembele’s assist count was five. Only Neymar with nine managed more.

Having set one up for Suarez, he will go into Tuesday’s Champions League debut for Barcelona wanting to do the same for Messi and knowing that if he does, he will be teeing his team-mate up for a very special goal.

But Dybala has started the campaign strongly, netting seven goals in his first four appearances

But Dybala has started the campaign strongly, netting seven goals in his first four appearances

But Dybala has started the campaign strongly, netting seven goals in his first four appearances

Messi has still never scored against Gianluigi Buffon. He grabbed his 38th hat-trick at the weekend and has scored five goals in his opening three league games.

Dybala is in top form too. He has seven goals so far this season. He has scored five from four games in Serie A and got two in the Italian Super Cup. He will test a Barcelona defence that is yet to concede in La Liga but that was taken apart by Real Madrid in the season’s Super Cup curtain raiser.

This is Barcelona against Juventus and not Dembele against Dybala but it does bring together two players who were also rivals this summer. Dembele won that particular duel if he comes out on top at the Nou Camp then Barcelona will have started their European campaign as convincingly as they have started the domestic one.

 

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