LNTUP

Messi breaks the jinx as his brace past Buffon sees Juve getting thrashed at Camp Nou

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Lionel Messi netted a brilliant brace as Barcelona helped themselves to a dose of Champions League revenge with a dominant 3-0 Group D win over Juventus.

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Juventus, who beat Barça by the same scoreline in the quarter-finals last season before holding out for a second-leg stalemate at Camp Nou, looked like a pale shadow of themselves and seems to need a major resurrections before battling it out with the bests in Europe.

Juve’s’ most notable pre-season departure – Leonardo Bonucci’s surprise switch to AC Milan – loomed largest over this match as a once formidable defence was cut to ribbons in Giorgio Chiellini’s injury absence.

Messi grabbed his 95th and 96th goals in the Champions League, breaking the deadlock just before the end of the first half. Messi’s magnificent opener in the final minute of the opening 45 marked the first time he has scored against fellow all-time great Gianluigi Buffon, who had kept him without a goal in three previous meetings.

After he had hit the post and played a part in Ivan Rakitic’s second goal, Messi beat Buffon again to round off the commanding win and maintain Barca’s resurgent early season form under Ernesto Valverde.

Ernesto Valverde made just one change to the Barcelona side that started the 5-0 victory at home to Espanyol on the weekend, with Ousmane Dembele coming into the starting line-up to replace Gerard Deulofeu.

Meanwhile, Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri made six alterations to the team that featured in their last outing, with the most notable inclusion being young Rodrigo Bentancur, who replaced Stefano Sturaro and made his first start for the club since joining from Boca Juniors. Elsewhere, Wojciech Szczesny, Stefan Lichtsteiner, Daniele Rugani, Kwadwo Asamoah and the injured Mario Mandzukic made way for Gianluigi Buffon, Mattia De Sciglio, Andrea Barzagli, Alex Sandro and Paulo Dybala, respectively.

Juve right-back Mattia De Sciglio joined Dembele in making a full debut for his new club and was almost the surprise source of the first goal in the sixth minute – Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen managing to tip wide as a speculative left-footed strike angled awkwardly away from him.

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Buffon made a vital interception in the 16th minute when Juventus lost the ball on the halfway line, allowing Barcelona to counter-attack quickly. Sergio Busquets immediately launched a lofted pass over the visitors’ disjointed back line and into the path of Dembele, who rushed towards the ball but couldn’t get the better of Buffon on the edge of the penalty area.

A minute after this, Iniesta put up some amazing footwork on display as the midfielder twisted and turned his way through a sea of white and black shirts. He easily got the better of three Juventus players. He managed to reach the edge of the box and looked set to either set up Luis Suarez or go for the ki himself but he’s bundled over by Blaise Matuidi before he can do so and Barcelona are awarded a free-kick just a few yards outside of the penalty area.

Messi’s low shot from the free-kick smashed into the wall, but the ball bounced to Suarez. The Uruguayan quickly unleashed a brilliant strike that looked set to find the back of the net, but Buffon was there to tip it over the crossbar with a brilliant diving stop.

Last-ditch challenges from Gerard Pique and Alex Sandro at either end took the sting out of attempts from Paulo Dybala and Dembele.

Alex Sandro’s intervention was required following a slack pass from De Sciglio – his last contribution before hobbling off through injury – and Messi pounced as the Juve reshuffle fell into place.

Juventus were just seconds away from being able to head into the half-time break with the scoreline still level, but Barcelona were finally able to find a way through the Italian side’s rigid back line, and it was all thanks to a piece of brilliance from Messi.

Messi broke forward on a brilliant run as he weaved his way past several Juventus players. He then played a quick one-two with Suarez before shooting, and his low strike trickled into the bottom right-hand corner of the net after leaving Buffon rooted to the spot.

Dybala, who had little to do in the first half, had a great chance to score in the opening minutes of the second half when a low cross-in from Sandro wasn’t fully dealt with by Gerard Pique, allowing the ball to roll out to Dybala. The Argentine quickly shoot, but his rocket of a strike sailed wide of the near post.

Minutes after this, Messi came extremely close to doubling Barça’s lead against the Grand Old Lady as he hit the post. An absolute screamer of a strike from Messi beat Buffon and looked set to find the back of the net, but it smashed the woodwork before then deflecting off the back of the veteran goalkeeper.

However, Barcelona soon made amendments for this ruined chance as Rakitic scored to double Barça’s lead in the 56th minute. Messi was left in acres of space over on the right flank, allowing him to dart forward and cut inside before fizzing a pass across the face of goal. It was fired away by Sturaro but only into the path of Rakitic, who quickly shot and comfortably slotted the ball into the back of the net.

10 minutes after the second goal, Suarez had an amazing chance to make it 3-0 for Barça. A beautiful bouncing cross from Alba bobbled into the middle of the Juventus penalty area and picked out Suarez, who quickly shot but couldn’t hit the target with his first-time, side-footed half-volley.

Suarez’s miss didn’t prove to be to costly for the Blaugranas as their star striker Messi scored yet another brilliant goal to make the scoreline 3-0.

The Argentine skipped through the middle of the box on a wonderful run as he broke towards the penalty area. He easily skipped past two defenders and got a shot away from the edge of the box, and it’s one that flew straight into the bottom right-hand corner of the net to make it 3-0.

Suarez had a fourth disallowed, the linesman’s flag sparing a Buffon fumble, while Juve’s cries for handball against Pique fell on deaf ears when he cleared Benatia’s header off the line. It summed up a fruitless endeavour for Massimiliano Allegri’s men.