The Champions League returns with a bang as Serie A champions Juventus seek to overcome a 1-0 aggregate deficit to Lyon for a spot in the quarter-finals.
Champions League action returns to our television screens on Friday night after nearly five months, starting with the remaining four last-16 ties. Kicking things off will be Juventus and Lyon in Turin.
Lyon head into the tie with a 1-0 aggregate lead following their shock first-leg victory in France, courtesy of Lucas Tousart’s goal. Neither Juventus nor Cristiano Ronaldo had an answer as they limped to a painful loss. And should Rudi Garcia’s side grab an away goal in Turin, the tie could be over.
Whoever comes out on top of this encounter will meet either Manchester City or Real Madrid, who play on the same night, in the quarter-finals.
Juventus Form & Team news
To say Juventus have hit a rough patch of form is an understatement, they’ve been poor. This huge slump led them to just two wins, two draws, and four defeats in their last eight games. That included back-to-back defeats to Cagliari and AS Roma.
Maurizio Sarri may have led the Old Lady to a ninth successive Serie A title, but their woeful end to the campaign and struggles under him are a cause for concern.
The pressure, though, will be firmly on Ronaldo to deliver on Friday instead. The five-time Champions League winner was signed to end Juventus’ 24-year drought in the competition and will be expected to supply the goods.
But while Sarri’s side don’t look like a genuine title contender, they have the quality to overturn their deficit against Lyon. Losing twice and failing to score just once in their 26 home games across all competitions this season doesn’t hurt either.
Sarri’s biggest concern is the fitness of Paulo Dybala. The newly crowned Serie A MVP has struggled with a thigh injury lately, causing him to miss Juve’s last two league games. While Douglas Costa, Sami Khedira, and Mattia De Sciglio are out.
Lyon Form & Team news
One key disadvantage Lyon may have against Juventus is that they’ve only played one competitive match since March 8 in last weekend’s Coupe de la Ligue final defeat to Paris Saint Germain. Although while they lost on penalties after finishing goalless, there were positives.
Lyon stood firm against PSG, producing a combative and resilient performance in Paris. Garcia’s three-man defense was solid and goalkeeper Anthony Lopes produced a string of impressive saves from the likes of Angel Di Maria and Neymar. The tactics were a little negative, but effective nonetheless.
If Lyon can deliver a similar display in Italy, then the quarter-final spot could be theirs. A clean sheet will guarantee passage, and an away goal will leave Juventus under huge pressure. Plus, they’ve already proven capable of keeping Ronaldo and co quiet.
Since returning from lockdown last month, Lyon have won four of their six games. However, five of them were friendlies and all four victories were by a one-goal margin.
Their away form, meanwhile, is a bit of a curious case with four defeats in their last six games. But Les Gones have only failed to score five times in their 23 outings on the road.
Memphis Depay’s return from a knee injury is a tremendous boost for Lyon. Although Tousart, who scored the winning goal in the first leg, has joined Hertha BSC. Kenny Tete and Marcelo are doubts, and Youssouf Kone is out.
Prediction & Betting Tips
Just one or more goals from Lyon will change the tie drastically and leave everyone in shock. Then again, their lack of football could come back to haunt them in Turin. The Coupe de la Ligue final was a good warm-up, but Juventus and Ronaldo are a different beast altogether.
Mr Green has, therefore, offered odds of 1.47 for a Bianconeri victory at the time of writing. A draw is available at 4.4 and a Lyon victory at 7.0.
Considering Sarri’s side have seen over 3.5 goals in four of their last six home games, banking on over 2.5 goals doesn’t seem a bad bet. After all, they’ll need at least two goals to progress.
Anytime Goalscorer – Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo may only have scored two of Juventus’ 12 goals in the group stages, but his sublime goalscoring form elsewhere has taken his tally up to 35 goals in 45 games across all competitions.
He also always seems to deliver a goal or more in times of need, which will be crucial on Friday. 888sport and Unibet have priced him at 13/20 to score on Oddschecker. But the question is will it be enough for Juve?
* Odds correct at the time of writing.