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History has thrown up some curious coincidences in European competition for FC Barcelona! From so many frequent final meetings against Manchester United to the lucky ´fortress´ of Wembley Stadium! Tuesday´s first-leg quarter-final match against Italian giants Juventus represents another familiar scene from Barça´s Champions League history. The two sides met in the same circumstances, in the 2002/2003 campaign, the first leg on that occasion also taking place in Turin. The winner of the round went all the way to the final…
9 April 2003: First Leg, Turin
Radomir Antic ´s FC Barcelona travelled to Turin to take on Juventus at a packed Delle Alpi stadium. With a starting XI including future Barça legends Xavi and Carles Puyol as well as the likes of Patrick Kluivert and Juan Riquelme, Barça had their strongest side for many seasons. After a physical game with the sides evenly matched, the Blaugranes came away with a 1-1 draw and a potentially crucial away goal from Javier Saviola in the 78th minute. Juventus had taken the lead in the game early on with a Paulo Montero goal in the 16th minute.
Monitoring the action for most of the game until his 83rd minute entrance was current FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique! With the sides evenly balanced, the game was nicely poised for the second leg!
22 April 2003: Second Leg, Barcelona
Just thirteen days later, Juventus arrived at the Camp Nou for the deciding game. The Italian side lined up with a star-filled starting eleven including Gianluigi Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluca Zambrotta. After 53 minutes, the deadlock was broken by Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved! Barça equalised through Xavi Hernandez to leave the game on a knife-edge.
The drama intensified towards the end of normal time as future Barça player Edgar Davids received a second yellow card signalling the end of his contribution. Despite having 22 shots to Juventus´ 10, FC Barcelona could not find that all important goal to finish the tie. Battling with only ten men, Juventus saw the game into extra time and with the scores equal, the Uruguayan Marcelo Zalayeta broke Barça hearts with 114th minute winner!
Juventus would go all the way to the final that season, before losing out to AC Milan on penalties at Old Trafford in Manchester. For FC Barcelona their quarter-final tie would be their last appearance at that stage of the competition for two seasons. However, under Antic´s replacement Frank Rijkaard, Barça would win the competition in 2006 with a thrilling win against Arsenal in Paris.