Champions League Preview: Barcelona host Juventus as the world get set for a Ronaldo-Messi showdown

The stage has been set for a Champions League showdown between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on Tuesday, 8th  December 2020.

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Ronaldo was absent from the first leg of the fixture which was won by Barcelona, because of the coronavirus. The world best duo will be reunited against each other for the first time since Ronaldo moved to Italy in 2018.

Barcelona and Juventus have already qualified for the next stage of the Champions League and Ronald Koeman’s men only need to avoid losing by at least two goals to cement the spot in Group G.

Messi was not involved when Barcelona traveled to Dynamo Kyiv and Ferencvaros but is set to return for what would be his first match against Cristiano Ronaldo since the Portuguese left Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018.

Ronaldo vs Messi in the Champions League

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have faced each other five times in the Champions League, three times when the former played for Manchester United and twice for Real Madrid.

Since the El Clasico semi-final in the 2010/2011 season, they have not met in European competition.

Messi has the advantage in these fixtures winning twice and two draws as well with only one Ronaldo victory, coming in the 2007/08 semi-final second leg at Old Trafford.

Another astounding stat is that the Juventus striker has never scored against a team including Messi in the Champions League, with the Argentine netting three times, including in the 2009 final in Rome.

Ronaldo and Messi are also the top scorers in European Cup/Champions League history as both players are the only ones to reach 100 goals in the competition.

Ronaldo beat Messi to surpass the century, netting 132 times, with Messi has 118 goals so far. Both have the same Champions League hat-tricks (8), as well as trebles in the top five European leagues (36).

Team news

Barcelona forward Dembele has suffered a hamstring injury at the weekend and will not feature despite scoring in the reverse fixture.

The France international joins Ansu Fati, Gerard Pique, and Sergi Roberto on the sidelines, while Samuel Umtiti is a doubt. Umtiti has a knee problem despite training.

Juventus, however, are going to be without Merih Demiral and Giorgio Chiellini.

The manager of the side Pirlo also confirmed that Gianluigi Buffon is fit and could feature.

Alvaro Morata is also in line to feature having missed the domestic fixture due to suspension.

Stats and facts going into the match (Backed by Opta)

  • Barcelona have gone unbeaten in their last four meetings with Juventus in the UEFA Champions League (W2 D2), winning two of the three games in this run that occurred in the group stage (D1).
  • Juventus’ only away victory against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League came back in April 2003 (2-1), having failed to win either of their two trips there in the competition since (D1 L1) – 0-0 in 2016-17 and 0-3 in 2017-18.
  • Juventus haven’t scored in any of their last four meetings with Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League (D2 L2). Since Giorgio Chiellini’s goal in a 3-0 win in April 2017, they have gone 395 minutes of play without scoring against the Spanish side in the competition.
  • Barcelona have won all five of their group stages matches this season, and could record the eighth instance of a side winning 6/6 games in a single group stage in the Champions League. Barcelona themselves account for one of the previous seven instances, back in 2002-03 under Louis van Gaal (1st group stage in that case).
  • Barcelona forward Martin Braithwaite has scored in both of his UEFA Champions League starts for the club – the only player to score in each of his first three starts for Barcelona in the competition is Gabri in 1999-2000.
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