The memories of their last Champions League match, also against Juventus who eliminated them in 2016's quarter finals, were strong for Barça at Camp Nou last night. The old ghosts came back to haunt them, but again, in a splendid week for him, Leo Messi showed up to decide their European debut with two goals and a resounding victory for the home team.
Messi continues to show his class
The match was a classic of the first European rounds. Neither team clearly dominated the game and the chances were evenly split until a footballer to decide the match turned up. Barça came back from the changing room after half-time to dominate the game. Ernesto Valverde's team found their saviours in the combination of Iniesta and Messi. When the ball was being passed between them, the feeling of control was absolute.
While Barça created chances, Juventus was also aggressive and very sure of themselves in every play. Saving their defence's backs, the short but fast attacks of Dybala and Higuaín scared Camp Nou on occasion, but they didn't have sufficient strength to score.
The player that did prove effective was Messi. When the Argentine saw his chance and wanted to, he tipped the scales of a match at a very high level. With the first half already in its last stretch, he sent a shot squeaking past the goalpost. Impossible for Buffon, the Italian goalkeeper to save. Another goal that Messi scored like it was nothing at all.
Slow and steady
Slow and steady wins the race was the order of the day for a Barça that grew in confidence and ability against Juventus. Messi again gave the edge when he wanted to. 11 minutes into the second half he created the decisive imbalance and ended up determining the game.
While the first goal of their first night in the Champions came from Messi in the middle of the pitch, the second came from a play from the far right. That time, however, Messi wasn't the scorer. Entering the area from the right, he sent the ball in, Sturaro tried to clear as best he could but found Rakitic who thundered it in from the penalty spot.
It wasn't the hoped-for debut from Dembélé as a headliner. The French footballer lacked space and ball time and couldn't play a decisive role. But there's no need to worry if the team works well, Messi included. The Argentinian scored the third goal of the match, his second, 20 minutes from time.
Duty served in Barça's first serious test this season. The three points make up for their start in the Champions and distance old nightmares after a traumatic elimination from Europe last season. Messi remains on top form, and if he's playing like that, nothing can stop Barça.