Barcelona, April 20 (IANS) Italian champions Juventus qualified for the semi-finals of the Champions League football tournament with a 0-0 draw in the second leg of their quarter-final tie at the Camp Nou Stadium here.
Barca coach Luis Enrique had said before Wednesday night’s game that his side would attempt to overturn the 3-0 deficit from the first leg until the very last minute of the return leg in front of their own fans and he was true to his word, reports Xinhua news agency.
However, Juventus are experts in defending a lead in Europe and despite Barca’s best efforts in an intense 90 minutes even players of the quality of Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were unable to break down Juventus’ black and white wall.
The game kicked off with a great atmosphere in the Camp Nou Stadium and with Barcelona’s starting 11 with Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets back in the starting XI.
As expected Barca looked to take the game to their rivals, who were happy to sit in their own half and look to hit Barca on the break.
The visitors started impressively making sure Barca were unable to settle on the ball, while the home side looked to progress down the Juventus right which was defended by former Barca right back, Dani Alves.
Messi was again the heart of the danger for Barca, shooting inches wide in the 19th minute and then seeing a shot parried by Gianluigi Buffon, before hitting the rebound into the side netting, but on the whole Barca were not playing with the clarity they needed.
There were also moments of tension after Messi fell heavily following a challenge in midfield and Neymar reacted with a challenge which earned him a booking that means he will miss Barca’s next European match.
The second half kicked off with Messi firing over the bar and seeing a curling shot deflected just wide of the Juventus post, while at the other end in what was becoming an increasingly open game Juan Cuadrado saw a shot go just wide after an error from Alba and had another saved by Ter Stegen on his near post.
With half an hour remaining and his side still needing three goals to force extra time, Barca coach Luis Enrique replaced midfielder Ivan Rakitic with striker Paco Alcacer, but the fact was that most of his side’s efforts continued to be from outside of the penalty area.
Barcelona kept on trying, with Messi again going close and Sergi Roberto shooting just wide as to their immense credit Barcelona kept on pushing for a miracle which looked increasingly unlikely with every passing minute.