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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 20/04/2017
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Catalan club lost first leg of quarterfinal by three goals to Juventus. FC Barcelona have another mountain to climb here on Wednesday night if they want to qualify for the semifinals of the Champions League as the Catalan football giants have to overturn a 0-3 defeat they suffered away to Juventus in the first leg of their quarterfinal tie.

But although they were able to fight back in the previous round after losing the first leg of their last-16 tie 0-4 away to Paris Saint-Germain, hopes are not high for a repeat performance, reports Xinhua news agency.

Juventus, with a wealth of European experience are a much tougher nut to crack than the French side, who showed a lack of personality in the Camp Nou stadium, and the Italians will not be overawed by the situation as Paris were.

Even Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, clearly depressed by his side's performance last week, admitted another miracle was "unlikely".

It is not just the quality of Barcelona's rival which doesn't invite optimism, the Catalan side's recent performances also make it hard to think they score at least three goals without Juventus scoring at least one goal themselves - and an away goal would leave the hosts needing to net five on Wednesday night.

"We'll try until the very end. We'll do everything possible to have another historic night. Tomorrow will produce circumstances similar to the PSG game. I have no doubt that at some moment we'll be close on aggregate," a confident Barcelona coach Enrique said at the press conference.

Saturday night's win at home against Real Sociedad in La Liga gave a perfect example of Barcelona's recent problems: although Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were able to torment their rivals in attack, there were moments when Barelona's midfield went missing in action allowing the Real Sociedad players to expose a shaky defence.

Real Sociedad actually had more possession of the ball in the game than Barcelona, something which used to be virtually unheard of in the Camp Nou. And although it is unlikely Juventus will see more of the ball on Wednesday, Gonzalo Higuain and Paolo Dybala, who scored twice in the first leg, will be looking forward to giving the Barcelona back line further nightmares.

Ahead of the game, Higuain told Juventus website: "I don't know whether our 3-0 lead will be enough. We have to come out fighting at the Camp Nou and play like we did in the first leg in Turin.

"Barcelona showed against PSG that they're capable of producing miracles, so we have to be on our toes," he said, advising his teammates.

"They'll be wary of us too, however. We'll be looking to create opportunities to score and we're certain that we have what it takes to reach the next round."

Dybala, who suffered a right ankle injury in the 2-0 win over Pescara in the Serie A on Saturday, is expected to be fit.

For Barcelona, Neymar will be fresh and available after missing out at the weekend through suspension and he can give everything knowing he will also miss next Sunday's Classico against Real Madrid.

The Classico presents another dilemma for Luis Enrique as Sunday's game in the Bernabeu will almost certainly decide the winners of the Spanish league title, Barcelona have to give everything on Wednesday. But if Juventus score there may come a time when Enrique decides the Champions League is lost and look to keep something back for Sunday, presenting him with an awkward balancing act."


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Khaleej Times




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