Both teams were already qualified for the Round of 16, so this was a head-to-head for first place. As Barca won 2-0 in Turin, with Cristiano Ronaldo ruled out at the time by COVID-19, Juve had to get the victory at Camp Nou with three clear goals, or two clear goals by any two-goal margin other than 2-0.
CR7 and Messi hadn’t faced off on the same pitch for over two years, ever since the Portuguese star moved to Turin. Giorgio Chiellini and Merih Demiral missed out, while Barca were without Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele.
Ronaldo tested Marc-Andre Ter Stegen early on and Danilo blasted wide, but Ronald Araujo got into a tangle when trying to tackle CR7 in the area and gave away a penalty. Ronaldo fired it quite central, counting on Ter Stegen picking a side first, putting Juventus into the lead.
The Bianconeri were buoyant and doubled their lead with an excellent team move. Weston McKennie spread the play down the right for Juan Cuadrado, Ronaldo’s movement drew away two defenders, allowing the space for McKennie’s acrobatic volley from six yards. It was the first time ever that Barcelona had conceded two goals at home in the opening 20 minutes of a Champions League tie.
Messi tried to immediately fight back, Gigi Buffon getting down quickly to fingertip the daisy-cutter round the post. Alvaro Morata had a shot charged down by Miralem Pjanic’s arm, but it was too low and tight to the body to be considered handball for another penalty.
Barca also had penalty appeals waved away for McKennie’s challenge on Messi, who got the shot anyway and forced a Buffon save.
The 2-0 result was not enough, and Juve needed one more to take top spot from the Blaugrana. Martin Braithwaite came on for Francisco Trincao to give the hosts a little more presence in the box, and Messi fired straight at Buffon.
However, Clement Lenglet stuck out an arm to stop McKennie firing in from close range, it came to Ramsey and Ter Stegen made a stunning save. When viewed on VAR, the penalty was inevitable and Lenglet was very fortunate not to get a second yellow card.
Ronaldo converted the spot-kick again, this time sending Ter Stegen the wrong way to fire into the near bottom corner, and 3-0 put Juve top of the group. It was an even more incredible result considering Barca were unbeaten in 25 Champions League group games, going back to November 2016 against Manchester City. Juve also became the first ever Italian side to score three away goals at Camp Nou.
Barcelona came close to pulling one back, Antoine Griezmann’s header from a Messi free kick looping up to bounce off the top of the crossbar.
Buffon was again decisive on Messi, with Braithwaite firing over on the rebound, even if he was also offside. Barcelona were awarded a penalty for a foul on Griezmann, but it was neutralised by his own offside position.
Ronaldo showed great commitment by tracking back to tackle Messi in the box at the 81st minute, then Buffon was right behind the couple of efforts La Pulga did manage to get away for an historic result.
Barcelona 0-3 Juventus
Ronaldo pens 13, 52 (J), McKennie 20 (J)
Ref: Stieler (GER)