Diego Forlan: Barcelona face another great escape but Juventus will not make same mistakes as PSG

In his column this week, Diego Forlan focuses on the latest poor away display by Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League.

Girgio Chiellini scored the third goal in Juventus' 3-0 win against Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday. Giuseppe Cacae / AFP
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Diego Forlan writes a weekly column for The National, appearing each Friday. The former Manchester United, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid striker has been the top scorer in Europe twice and won the Golden Boot at the 2010 World Cup. He currently plays in Japan for Cerezo Osaka. Forlan's column will be written with the assistance of European football correspondent Andy Mitten.

I moved house last weekend, but I did try to watch Manchester United as always, even though I was expected to help at home.

The team were leading 2-0 against Sunderland when I was called away to lend a hand, and I missed a couple of minutes of the game. So I did not hear the United fans singing my name.

Soon after the match ended, I received messages which showed television footage of Jose Mourinho turning to Michael Carrick to ask who Diego was. United fans were singing about me in the away end, something which I cannot believe still happens.

I loved my time at United and had a good relationship with supporters, but I am sure there are many others who say exactly the same, some of them who had more successful careers at the club than I had. And they do not get their names sung.

It is all very flattering, but I love that catchy little song: “Diego, wooah, Diego, wooah, he came from Uruguay, he made the Scousers cry”.


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People still come up to me wherever I am in the world and remind me of two goals scored in a Premier League match 15 years ago more often than they do about my goals which saw me as the top scorer in the 2010 World Cup.

It happened recently in Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. And in India itself. People know I played for Uruguay and Atletico Madrid and other great clubs.They know I scored lots of other goals, too, but those two from Anfield keep being brought up.

I was with an English friend last year and his brother called him on Skype. He saw that I was there and shouted: “The Scousebuster!”


Even Liverpool fans approach me and say “I won’t forget who you are”. I wonder whether it is because my goals for Atletico Madrid knocked them out of Europe, but it is probably those two for United – they stick in the mind because it was the first time in 10 years that United had won at Anfield.

Gary Neville knew the significance. He said immediately after that game: "You don't know what you have done, Diego. You and they [the fans] will always remember it."

Diego Forlan in 2002 after scoring his first goal against Liverpool. Paul Barker / AFP

Since I stopped playing in India in December, I have watched more games and have been planning a trip to see United. My idea is to meet these fans, to stand with them and watch a game from their perspective, something I could not do when I played.

I loved those away fans who travelled everywhere and never stopped singing in support of their team, and I want to sing with them, though not about myself. The other players can get my support.

A day after getting all the messages about my song, I watched Barcelona lose 3-0 in Turin. It was another big Uefa Champions League away game when they did not play well and were heavily defeated.

There will be the same stories and expectation of a comeback in Camp Nou next week, but I am less sure it is possible against Juventus than it was against Paris Saint-Germain, even though they held a greater lead.

It is worrying for Barca that they let the same thing happen again. They did not play well, none of them. Their attitude looked wrong, their star players were flat. Neymar, who has been brilliant this season, could not spark, though he was often up against Dani Alves who knows him well and had a point to prove against his old club.

Neymar failed to spark against Juventus on Wednesday night. Emilio Andreoli / Getty Images

Andres Iniesta, another game-changer, disappointed. Every player has bad days, but you will pay for them if you have them in the biggest games.

Barca have an unforgiving schedule and I would have fancied them had Luis Suarez got an away goal or Mario Mandzukic been sent off – as he should have been – but I doubt that any team can keep coming back time and time again. Sometimes your luck runs out, but it is not just about luck.

Juventus are defensively excellent, much stronger than PSG. Their captain is Gianluigi Buffon, their vice captain Giorgio Chiellini, who plays alongside Leonardo Bonucci.

All are hugely experienced for club and county and will be able to withstand the pressure in Camp Nou more than any of their teammates.

Alex Sandro was superb against Messi. He is really improving; he is fast, with good technique. He has replaced Patrice Evra and is now showing consistency to match his talent. The other full-back is Alves.

Paulo Dybala scored twice in the 3-0 win. Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

Up front they have Paulo Dybala, who is in a great moment. I picked him out in one of my first columns for this newspaper as a player to watch. He is quick, he shoots well and gets past players. He crosses well, he is still only 23 and he takes the responsibility of penalties.

Oh, and they also have Gonzalo Higuain, one of the great strikers in world football who is justifying his massive transfer fee from Napoli.

It will be very tough for them at Camp Nou, with 90,000 people against them rather than 40,000 people going crazy behind them as they had in Turin.

That can make a difference, but I think a combination of mental toughness and experience, plus the ability to study what PSG did wrong, will see them far harder to turn over.

They went to the Bernabeu and survived in the 2015 semi-final by playing very intelligently. That led to a final against Barcelona in Berlin, where they were outclassed.

Now is the perfect opportunity for revenge.


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