Two first-half strikes from Paulo Dybala and a rare UEFA Champions League goal by Giorgio Chiellini leave Juventus in firm command of their quarter-final against Barcelona.
Paulo Dybala struck twice inside the opening 22 minutes as Juventus took a firm grip on this UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie.
Barcelona started with a makeshift defence in the absence of the suspended Sergio Busquets, and the unfamiliarity was soon exposed. There were just seven minutes on the clock when Juan Cuadrado fed the ball to Dybala who, with defenders backing off, span and fired into the far corner.
A fantastic reaction save from Gianluigi Buffon to deny Andrés Iniesta kept the lead intact and moments later it was 2-0, Dybala driving in from the edge of the box. Giorgio Chiellini's header ten minutes after half-time – only his second ever goal in the competition – left home fans in dream land.
Just one word of caution: Paris.
Key player: Paulo Dybala
It is traditional, in the lead-up to important ties like this, for players to watch their words. Dybala eschewed that approach this week and stated, firmly, that he expected to knock Barcelona out, that Juventus were better than their opponents. Tonight he played with all the impishness and technique which have marked him down as special – and added two wonderful goals for emphasis.
Dybala v Messi
"I don't want to become the new Messi; there is only one Messi and I would like to beat him," Dybala said in a recent interview. This morning the Gazzetta dello Sport mocked up Dybala threatening Messi through a Snow White-style magic mirror with the headline: "Fairy-tale night: will Dybala be the fairest of them all?" Well, in Turin the 23-year-old Argentinian forward was. A repeat performance at the Camp Nou and the mirror's answer might change.
Barcelona: seeds of doubt
Sometimes a team's decisions speak as loudly as their actions: 3-4-3 or 4-3-3? Here the visitors did a half with each system, meaning that for the second game in four days Jérémy Mathieu failed to re-emerge after the interval. With the first formation Barcelona didn't get tight to Dybala for either goal; with the change Chiellini didn't so much out-jump Javier Mascherano as stoop to conquer. Barcelona betrayed a lack of conviction.
Paolo Menicucci, Juventus (@UEFAcomPaoloM)
Is this Juventus side better than the one that lost the 2015 final to Barcelona. Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo have departed but now there's a real mental toughness. Two years ago Barça outclassed Juve in the first half and were unfortunate to score only once; tonight the Bianconeri attacked from the off, dominating the early exchanges and setting up a convincing victory.
Graham Hunter, Barcelona (@BumperGraham)
Barcelona's preparation for this stage of the season, both mental and physical, has been aimed at trying to arrive at this round of the UEFA Champions League with more freshness than when they were eliminated last term by Atlético. Luis Enrique has rotated some players, protected Iniesta, toyed with his formation – all in search of the zip that was a trademark of their titles in 2011 and 2015. It hasn't worked.