UEFA Champions League preview: Juventus v Real Madrid – Juventus Stadium – April 3 – Round of 8 – 1st leg clash
So, once again the last year’s finalists meet in the UEFA Champions League tourney, but this time in as early as the Round of 8 stage. Juventus will be thirsting for revenge and very much want to put the 1-4 thrashing at the hands of the 11-time champions in the 2017 finals behind them.
For the Bianconeri, the probable absence of Giorgio Chiellini at the back could be a big blow going into the Round of 8 clash. The 33-year old defensive legend suffered a thigh injury in a Serie A clash with SPAL last weekend. Centre-back Mehdi Benatia will be out on a yellow card suspension till April 5th and so will be central mid-fielder Miralem Pjanic. Brazilian right-winger Juan Cuadrado will miss the April 3 game, too, out with a groin injury. Despite having brilliant players like Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic in the attack, the loss of so many individuals in the mid-field and defensive spaces will automatically put Juve on the back-foot especially when the visitors have the likes of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Caseimiro prowling in similar positions. The Real mid-field bench strength is incredible with Isco, Gareth Bale and Lucas Vazquez crowding the ranks. Arsenio, Benzema and Ronaldo still make a terrifying attacking trio despite Benzema not being at his best.
Massimiliano Allegri will probably stick to his customary 4-2-3-1 which will have the very creative Higuain as the lone striker. But it will take just more than the mercurial Argentine to test the Real wall of Sergio Ramos, Marcello, Daniel Carvajal and Raphael Varane. Behind Higuain will be the live-wire trio of Douglas Costa on the wings, the very gifted Dybala and Alex Sandro all of whom can be so lethal in counter-attacks. Real defenders Marcello, Ramos and Carvajal have in recent years shown a propensity to attack early in a game that could leave holes for Higuain, Dybala & co. to exploit. The responsibilities of manning the Bianconeri defense will lie on the shoulders of Andrea Barzagli with Chiellini out for next week’s game. To give him company at the back will be Mattia De Sciglio, Daniele Rugani and Kwadwo Asamoah.
Juventus five-match winning run was broken by a unwanted 0-0 draw against Serie A minions SPAL. But, needless to say, it will be a somewhat depleted Juventus side that will face the fury of Ronaldo & co. The Los Blancos icon is in blistering form coming out of a La Liga clash against Girona where he pumped in 4 goals.
Real Madrid do not have a very convincing history against Juventus having won just 2 of their ten matches in a decade. But it’s the Los Blancos incredible form on the European stage in recent years that give them the edge.
Juventus to WIN, best odds 2.84 @ Betfair
Please Gamble Responsibly 18+, Odds Subject to Change