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Barcelona vs Juventus 12 September 2017: UCL Preview and Predictions

Alarico Blandon | Setiembre 13, 2017, 00:33

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"They have lost Bonucci but they remain a very strong, good team", said Valverde. A lot has changed since then. Barcelona were a team in ruins in the summer, and the visit of Juventus will show us just how far Ernesto Valverde's men have come.

There is no doubt that the visitors were the better of the two in the hard-fought draw at Mestalla on Saturday afternoon. Gianluigi Buffon glanced to his left but knew immediately there was no point in diving when the Argentina international let fly with his first touch in the Juve box off the half-volley. England, Germany, Italy and Spain are to enjoy the luxury of four automatic spots in the group stage, removing the need for any teams to negotiate the August playoffs, and entrenching the status of the privileged.

They therefore travel to Catalonia with expectations high on the outside, even if Allegri is trying to keep them in check internally.

Juventus, like Barcelona, have an impressive attacking line-up, comprising stars like Douglas Costa, Gonzalo Higuain and Paolo Dybala.

Leo Messi has had a flying start to the season and has already scored five goals, while Luis Suarez is also fully fit after missing the start of the campaign with an ankle injury.

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Juventus are set to create history on Tuesday night (or the wee hours of Wednesday morning, IST), as the Bianconeri become the Italian side to have made the most number of UEFA Champions League appearances - 18 - surpassing AC Milan by one. The fourth spot in defense is for the undecided right back.

For all of Barca's off-field problems, on the pitch they can still rely on Lionel Messi. The notable difference in the lineup is expected to be the European debut in the Blaugrana uniform for Dembele.

With Lionel Messi having plundered his 38th career hat-trick in Saturday's 5-0 derby win over Espanyol, they face a superstar in great form. If they get their tails up and start to get that belief they've had in the Premier League for the past couple of years they can certainly go very close.

Thomas Partey could be Gabi's like for like replacement. "To try again against [Barca forward Lionel] Messi will be a huge stimulus".

Yet, he has still to put pen to paper despite Bartomeu's insistence the wait for Messi's signature is merely a matter of time.