Juventus produced a well organised spirited performance as they outshone a poor Barcelona back line and goals from Paulo Dybala with a superb first-half double and Giorgio Chiellini’s second-half header gave Juventus a 3-0 victory over a dreadful Barcelona.
The great Lionel Messi was outclassed by Paulo Dybala as his compatriot produced two sublime finishes to give Juventus a commanding 3-0 advantage over Barcelona in their Champions League quarter-final.
Dybala has been keen to play down talk of him being Messi’s heir apparent for the Argentina national team, but using his magic to great effect on such occasions makes comparisons irresistible.
Having completed a seemingly impossible comeback by overturning a 4-0 first-leg deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the previous round, Luis Enrique’s side now arguably face a tougher task. However they are giving themselves mountains to climb and this may be a step too far for Enrique’s team.
It is scarcely credible to imagine Massimilino Allegri’s streetwise Juventus defence, marshalled superbly by Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini – who scored the third 10 minutes after the break – folding as the Ligue 1 champions did in the Camp Nou cauldron.
Outgoing Barca boss Luis Enrique once again deployed the hybrid 3-4-3 formation he fielded to see off PSG. However, the result was like watching a Sunday morning team in Newcastle Under Lyme out in the park after a heavy curry and 7 pints of ale the night before and Barcelona were picked apart by Serie A’s dominant Old Lady with apparent ease.
Leicester City still have it all to play for despite losing 1-0 to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish capital to give themselves a real chance of progressing to the Champions League semi finals.
The Foxes lost to LaLiga opponents after Antoine Griezmann gave Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win. Antoine Griezmann benefitted from a contentious penalty call to give Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win over the Midlands team in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Griezmann made light of a dismal recent record from the penalty spot to send Kasper Schmeichel the wrong way in the 28th minute but Marc Albrighton’s clear foul on the France star was made just short of the penalty box and it appear the whole of Leicester and their mum was aggrieved by the obvious mistake by the referee.
Diego Simeone’s side are chasing their third final appearance in four seasons and, having overcome Barcelona and Bayern Munich over two legs last term, they did not always appear comfortable in the role of favourites. Atletico have not conceded a goal in a home knockout tie in Europe since March 2014 and Leicester failed to register a shot on target as they rarely looked like breaking that run. Their resolute behaviour at the back however remains and they will be looking for a little bit of luck in the return leg next week and hopefully a different ref. Preferably one who has recently been to Specsavers.
The Madrid side were unable to turn their dominance into a more convincing win and Leicester, who overturned a first-leg deficit to knock out Sevilla in the last 16, will still have their beady eyes on another LaLiga scalp.
Atletico pushed forward from kick-off, with Saul Niguez having a shot blocked, but the sight of Jamie Vardy tearing after Shinji Okazaki’s punt and firing across the face of goal demonstrated Leicester’s most likely route to an upset.
Koke powered a rising 25-yard strike against the left-hand post as Schmeichel grasped at thin air, while Yannick Carrasco failed to punish Robert Huth for making a mess of a headed clearance in the ninth minute and slashed his back-post volley wide.
After the match, a fuming Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare said the referee “guessed” over the penalty decision that led to their defeat. Jonas Eriksson awarded an incorrect penalty for he foul on Antoine Griezmann, with replays showing the offence took place outside the box.
Shakespeare said: “It is a really disappointing decision by the referee, It’s a key moment in the game. He has to get that one right, he can’t guess on those things. It’s a definite free-kick but it’s out of the box.
“It’s the key decisions you want correct.”
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was equally adamant that the decision was the incorrect one.
“It was plain and obvious to see. It has ruined our game plan,” he rasped
“It is a decision that is tough to take when it is so clear and obvious. We should have had something from this but we have to accept it. We made a challenge outside of the box. They might have scored from that free-kick but obviously there is a much better chance of scoring from the penalty – but it was never a penalty.”
Even former Manchester star and television pundit Phil Neville made his comments with vigour.
“It was an outstanding result. Craig Shakespeare would have taken that before tonight. Leicester have defended really well and limited Atletico Madrid to shots from distance. It was just a horrendous penalty decision that has cost them the game.
“We have no monitor and no television replays and I knew straight away that Marc Albrighton’s challenge was outside the box. We must be about 80 yards away from the incident. The referee was right on top of it. It was a diabolical decision. I didn’t expect that sort of defensive concentration from them. I feared the worst after their 4-2 defeat by Everton on Sunday. I keep thinking that the Leicester fairy tale can’t continue, but the fans here believe.”
“What I will say, however, is that Atletico might prefer playing Leicester at the King Power where they will be forced to come out and attack.”
Neville may be right with his thinking and I expect Atletico to attack in the return match which may well play into Leicester’s hands on the counter attack.
Even the great William Shakespeare would be lost writing about the antics of Craig’s team.
Come on Leicester! You can do it!