Juventus upends Barcelona to reach Champions League semifinals

Associated Press
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Barcelona looked for a second straight miracle comeback in the 2016/17 Champions League, but it was not to be as the stout Juventus defense held up under heavy fire for a 0-0 draw, seeing the Italians move into the semifinals with a 3-0 aggregate advantage.

The Spanish giants held much of the possession throughout the match, with Juventus happy to absorb the pressure. Georgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci lived up to their reputation as one of the world’s best central defensive partnerships, while Alex Sandro and former Barcelona full-back Dani Alves did the work on the flanks.

Lionel Messi had the best early chance with a wide open shot near the penalty area on 20 minutes, but couldn’t direct it goalwards, firing just wide right, leaving Luis Enrique baffled at the missed opportunity. There was a scary moment just before halftime when Messi went up for an aerial challenge and was undercut by Miralem Pjanic, landing square on his cheek. Messi recovered from his fall as his cheek began to bleed, and he returned for the second half with a bandage.

Juventus had opportunities as they built themselves into the game, with Juan Cuadrado proving the most dangerous. On the other end, Juventus defenders continued to usher the Barcelona attackers into wide areas of the box, forcing them to shoot from tight angles.

Sami Khedira was booked for hauling down Luis Suarez past the hour mark, meaning he is suspended for the semifinal first leg. As the final whistle blew, it marked an enormous 530 minutes since Juventus last conceded a goal in Champions League play, a 9th minute goal by Sevilla back in November.