The UEFA Champions League group stage came to an end for a parade of clubs last night as many teams begin to look ahead to the knockout stage, with one game being far more one-sided than many were expecting – Barcelona vs Juventus. The two titans of European football went to war and, in the end, the Italian champions came out on top with the win.
The final Ronaldo vs Messi?
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are universally considered to be the two best players in world football and we can’t see that changing anytime soon – but there is a chance this could be the final time we see them compete competitively against one another on the big stage. Barca and Juve are obviously in two different leagues, and with rumours circulating that Messi will leave the Nou Camp next summer, it seems like just a matter of time before one hangs up their boots.
The idea that any manager can succeed at a top club with top players has always been a bit silly, and now, we have proof of that. Ronald Koeman is really struggling to put together a team he’s happy with, and he even said himself that his side looked “scared” last night. Within a few months he already seems to be giving up on his squad and while some may not have seen that coming, we always thought it’d be inevitable given his style.
Juve’s UCL hopes
Now that Juventus have won the group, they are priced at 15/1 with 888sport to win the UEFA Champions League which makes them the fifth favourites behind Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain. They’ve still got a long way to go but based on what we saw last night, they could easily edge themselves into contention between now and the end of the season. Cristiano Ronaldo is clearly still as hungry as he’s ever been to win the European Cup and when you’re that determined to get the job done with a player like that at the helm, anything is possible.
Barcelona: ter Stegen (5.5), Alba (6), Lenglet (5.5), Araujo (6), Dest (6.5), de Jong (7), Pjanic (6), Pedri (6), Messi (8), Trincao (6), Griezmann (6.5), Firpo (6), Mingueza (6), Puig (6.5), Umtiti (6), Braithwaite (6)
Juventus: Buffon (8), Danilo (7.5), Bonucci (7), de Ligt (7), Cuadrado (7.5), McKennie (7.5), Arthur (7.5), Ramsey (7), Sandro (8.5), Ronaldo (8.5), Morata (7), Bentancur (6.5), Chiesa (6), Bernardeschi (6), Rabiot (6.5), Dybala (6)
Referee: Tobias Stieler
Goals: Ronaldo pen x2, McKennie
Yellow Cards: Lenglet, Umtiti, Alba, Firpo, Danilo, Ramsey, Morata
Red Cards: N/A