The storyline is pretty simple. Lionel Messi's FC Barcelona host Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus in their final UEFA Champions League, Group G match. Both the teams have qualified for the knock-outs. But nothing is simple when the two best players go head-to-head. (More Football News)
So, when was the last time the two best players of their generation met in the world's biggest club competition? Almost a decade ago. It was in the 2010-11 Champions League season when Ronaldo was still based at Madrid. Ronaldo then moved to Itlay to join Juventus.
How many times have Messi and Ronaldo have played against each other in the Champions League? Five times -- twice (Ronaldo with Manchester United) and three (Ronaldo with Real Madrid). And we are not talking about their rivalry in Spain -- La Liga, Copa del Rey and Super Cup.
This could be the sixth occasion that Messi and Ronaldo have met in the Champions League and their first such meeting since May 2011. Messi is 3-0 up on Ronaldo in terms of goals in those previous fixtures -- Barca 0-0 Man Utd, Man Utd 1-0 Barca (SFs in 2008); Barca 2-0 Man Utd (Final, 2009. One Messi goal); Real Madrid 0-2 Barca (SF, 2011, both Messi goals) and Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid (SF, 2011).
What's at stake?
Barcelona will win the group unless Juventus can overtake it in head-to-head goals. Barcelona won 2-0 in the first leg in Turin, with Ronaldo missing that possible rematch with Messi after catching the coronavirus. Barca need to avoid a three-goal defeat, or any two-goal margin of defeat other than 2-0. A victory for the Catalan giants would make it just the eighth instance of a side winning all six group matches, Barca having previously achieved the feat once before in 2002-03.
After that match, Barca and Juve engaged on social media with the Spanish club not so surreptitiously taking a dig at Ronaldo. Then, the Italian side responded by telling the Catalans to use the right dictionary. The barb was about a certain GOAT, or the real GOAT.
You probably looked it up in the wrong dictionary. We'll bring you the right one at Camp Nou ðÂÂÂÂÂÂðÂÂÂÂÂÂ— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) October 28, 2020
Now, it's safe to assume that the GOATs are ready to settle the debate for their respective clubs. Messi is ready to face Juventus and Ronaldo ready for yet another clash with Barcelona.
But, football is a team sport. A Messi, or a Ronaldo can't do everything on their own, even if they want to. Besides, both the sides have an ensemble of stars in their respective ranks. Here's a look at the possible starting XIs.
How will Barcelona line up against Juventus?
Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, Ousmane Dembele are out.
Likely XI: Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong, Pjanic, Pedri; Messi, Griezmann, Coutinho.
How will Juventus line up against Barcelona?
Giorgio Chiellini, Merih Demiral and Gianluigi Buffon are out.
Likely XI: Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, De Ligt, Sandro; Chiesa, Rabiot, Bentancur, Kulusevski; Morata, Ronaldo.
When and where to watch FC Barcelona vs Juventus football match?
Match: Barcelona vs Juventus, UEFA Champions League, Group G match - Matchday 6
Date: December 9 (Wednesday), 2020
Time: 1:30 AM IST. 8 PM (GMT)/ 9.00 PM CET on Tuesday. Check kick-off time in your time zone HERE.
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
TV Channel: Sony Ten 2/HD (Indian Subcontinent)
Live Streaming: SonyLiv
Spain: Movistar+, Mitele Plus
Italy: NOW TV, SKY Go Italia, Sky Sport Uno
UK: BT Sport ESPN, BT Sport App, BTSport.com
USA: ZonaFutbol, TUDN.com, TUDNxtra, Univision NOW, Univision, TUDN App, CBS All Access, TUDN USA
Check global telecast details HERE.
Now is not the best time to be a Barca fan. They are languishing at 10th in La Liga after yet another defeat, this time against Cadiz. In ten matches, they have lost four times, and drawn twice. But they have won all their five matches so far in the Champions League. Ronald Koeman will hope to keep at least one front safe and sound in his first season as the boss.
Last five results (Latest first): Cadiz 2-1 Barcelona, Ferencvaros 0-3 Barcelona, Barcelona 4-0 Osasuna, Dynamo Kyiv 0-4 Barcelona, Atletico Madrid 1-0 Barcelona.
Juventus, with their new manager in club legend Andrea Pirlo, expected smooth sailing. But the Old Lady are not quite singing at their best tune. They won all but one (against Barca) in the continental tournament, but their Serie A form is not so looking good. The champions are fourth after the tenth round, with five wins and five scrappy draws.
Last five results (Latest first): Juventus 2-1 Torino, Juventus 3-0 Dynamo Kyiv, Benevento 1-1 Juventus, Juventus 2-1 Ferencvaros, Juventus 2-0 Cagliari.