When the Champions League draw put Barcelona and Juventus in the same group, soccer fans all over the world eagerly awaited the prospect of watching Lionel Messi versus Cristiano Ronaldo again.
The two had not faced each other since the Portuguese swapped Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018.
The fans, however, had to wait when the two men were denied a reunion in Turin in October, as Ronaldo missed Barca’s 2-0 victory after a positive COVID-19 test.
So all eyes were on the duo on Tuesday, with Ronaldo healthy again and raring to go, and it was the Portuguese who emphatically came out on top, scoring two penalties as Juve triumphed 3-0 to claim top spot in Group G.
A constant thorn in the Catalans’ side while in Spain with Real, the 35-year-old Ronaldo scored two penalties to take his goal tally against Barca to an extraordinary 20 in 31 games.
It was not just his goal-scoring contribution that caught the eye. From the off, he looked much quicker than the Barca backline despite their significant age gap.
His game was perhaps best summed up when, into the final 10 minutes with his team comfortably leading, Ronaldo tracked back and dispossessed Messi inside the Juve box before leading the charge on a counter-attack.
The Argentine fought valiantly in what always looked to be a losing battle but at times he appeared alone in a disjointed attack.
He tested Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon a number of times from distance but never looked like finding the back of the net on a night that very much belonged to his old foe.
Reuters | BARCELONA