Top of La Liga plays top of Serie A, and both teams have won all three of their league matches so far this season.
THE Champions League features the return of Manchester United and Chelsea tonight, but the game of the round is without a doubt Barcelona hosting Juventus.
It’s a match-up worthy of the final, as it was in 2015, rather than an opening group game.
Top of La Liga plays top of Serie A. Both teams have won all three of their league matches so far this season.
And they each both two outstanding strikers at the very peak of their powers.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, who scored his 42nd career hat-trick at the weekend against Espanyol, looks as hungry as ever despite turning 30 in June.
And fellow Argentine Paulo Dybala, who has started the season with a bang for Juve with seven goals in four games.
But the vagiaries of Uefa’s seeding system means the Italian champions, who have won the last six Serie A titles, head to Spain to face five-time European champions Barcelona.
Barca beat Juve 3-1 in Berlin in the 2015 final, but the Old Lady had her revenge in last season’s quarter-finals, winning 3-0 on aggregate.
Since then Neymar has left Barcelona moved on to Paris Saint-Germain for £198million, replaced by Ousmane Dembele for £138million.
Juventus have also been weakened, at least on paper, with Dani Alves moving to PSG and Leonardo Bonucci off to AC Milan.
Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri believes Barcelona are still the benchmark in European football.
He said: “For me, Barcelona are still the best club around today.
“Andres Iniesta represents the essence of football, while Ousmane Dembele is an interesting youngster and when you have players like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Dembele, it’s hard for your opponents to mark you.”
Despite the set back of losing Neymar, Barcelona have looked much more like their old selves so far this season, under new coach Ernesto Valverde.
The 5-1 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid in the season opening Supercopa has been largely forgotten.
They sit on top of La Liga with three wins out of three. Just as importantly, they have not conceded a goal.
Barcelona’s 5-0 destruction of Espanyol last weekend was a case in point. The team fought like fury to win the ball back, with even hat-trick hero Lionel Messi chasing back and working flat out to press the opposition.
Dembele, who came off the bench for the final 20 minutes of the Espanyol game, could start tonight.
Valverde said: “He is training well, he could start at any time. If not now, then it will be shortly.
For Juventus, the key man is Paulo Dybala, who has started the season in a rich vein of form, with five goals in three league games, seven from four in all competitions.
Dybala, 23, is seen as Messi’s successor as the talismanic figure of Argentine football, and is wanted by many of Europe’s biggest-spending clubs.
Both teams are likely to qualify from Group D, with Sporting Lisbon and Olympiakos fighting for the Europa League place allotted to the teams who finish third.
But one of Europe’s glamour games is a spectacular way to kick off this season’s Champions League.
?Latest Champions League odds?
SUN BETS ARE ? PRICE FOR BRITISH CLUBS IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
- Man United to beat Basel: 2/13
- Chelsea to beat FC Qarabag: 1/12
- Liverpool to beat Sevilla: 8/11
- Man City to beat Feyenoord: 2/5