Juve, Barca through

Paris, August 27:

Former champions Juventus and Barcelona on Tuesday reached the lucrative Champions League group stage after safely negotiating away second legs in their final qualifiers.

Both the Italians and the Catalan club had cruised to respective 4-0 wins over Slovakia’s Artmedia Petrzalka and Poland’s Wisla Krakow on their own turf — but Barca were sluggish in going down 1-0 from a goal from Brazilian Cleber early in the second half. That sealed their passage 4-1 on aggregate while Juve, who were held 1-1 on the night, went through 5-1 on aggregate.

Juve found themselves a goal behind after just 14 minutes when Branislav Fodrek put Artmedia ahead but Amauri equalised nine minutes later as Claudio Ranieri’s side secured a first group berth in three seasons.

After Tuesday’s less than impressive showing, Barcelona will at least expect to welcome back Olympic gold medalist Lionel Messi for the group stages.