Spanish La Liga powerhouse Barcelona needed arguably the biggest miracle in European soccer history to even reach the Champions League quarter-finals. Now the side needs another one as it enters its second-leg match against Italian Serie A club Juventus in a 3-0 hole. Barca is a sizable soccer betting favourite at Sports Interaction to win Wednesday’s match on the home pitch, but simply winning won’t be enough.
Juventus at Barcelona, Champions League Second Leg
Moneylines: Barca -198, Juventus +438, Draw +364 Total: 2.5 Date: Wednesday, April 19, 2:45 p.m. ET Location: Camp Nou, Barcelona
What’s At Stake?
Back in the Champions League Round of 16, Barcelona was routed 4-0 in the first leg at French power Paris Saint-Germain. The result tied Barca’s worst-ever in Europe. It led to a firestorm of criticism for Barca manger Luis Enrique, and on March 1 he announced he would step down from his position at the end of this season. That will be one of the most-coveted jobs in the world, regardless of sport. Barca won the treble in its first season under Enrique after he replaced Gerardo Martino in 2014 and followed it up with a double last season.
Whether Enrique’s announcement played a role or not, Barcelona routed visiting PSG 6-1 on March 8 to shockingly advance to the Champions League quarter-finals due to an aggregate of 6-5. Barca was the first team in European history to overcome a 4-0 first-leg CL deficit. It was spectacular soccer to watch because Barcelona was in full-out attack the entire match. Superstar Neymar was spectacular that evening with two goals. Lionel Messi had one.
So perhaps a 3-0 deficit is nothing for the Catalans. That’s the aggregate deficit Barcelona faces following a loss at Juventus on April 11. Paulo Dybala scored twice in the first half for the Bianconeri and Giorgio Chiellini added the third goal in the 55th minute.
Scoring Odds for Messi, Neymar
Enrique has said Barcelona has been “liberated” by that loss and that his team will play an attacking brand of soccer again Wednesday. Any team with Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez can’t be ruled out from a four-goal game. Messi is the -161 favourite to be an anytime goalscorer on soccer odds. Suarez is -147 and Neymar +122. Messi is +291 to be the first goalscorer.
“The tie can turn around,” Enrique said. “If we score the first in the first minute, the second is scored by the stadium, and the third falls by itself.” However, this will be an even greater challenge than against Paris Saint-Germain – which imploded upon itself — because Juventus has been the second-best defensive team in Europe’s top five leagues this season. It has allowed the second-fewest goals per game with 0.63; only German giant Bayern Munich has allowed fewer at 0.52. Juventus is tied with English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur for sixth in Europe in allowing 8.97 shots per game. Barca had 14 shot attempts in the first leg but only three on target.
Barcelona is trying for a 17th Champions League semi-final, while Juve looks for its 12th. Those two met in the 2015 final in Berlin, a 3-1 Barca win to take the trophy for a fifth time. This year’s semi-final draw is Friday. Juventus is going for a possible treble of its own as it comfortably leads Serie A and faces Lazio in the Coppa Italia final next month.
Barcelona is on a 15-game European winning streak at home. Overall, Barcelona’s record at home vs. Serie A clubs is 14 wins, two losses and five draws. Juventus last played at Camp Nou in the 2002-03 CL quarter-finals and won 2-1 to advance. Before losing to Atlético in 2014, that was the last time the Catalans were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Juve is likely going to be in a defensive shell all match, and I don’t see them scoring a goal as it’s not an especially great possession team. In the first leg, Juventus held possession only 35 per cent of the time. Zero goals for the away team is +160 on Wednesday, and I recommend that bet. Ditto that both teams don’t score at +133. Barcelona wins but won’t get enough of a margin to advance.