Verdict: Barcelona win and both teams to score
Best Odds: 15/4
It’s first vs second in Group D and it’s also a repeat of the 2015 Champions League final. For both sides, they will know how important three points are on Wednesday night. Barcelona only need a point to guarantee their spot in the last 16, while Juventus will be desperate to move out of touching distance from third-placed Sporting Lisbon.
Although Massimiliano Allegri’s side may sit three points ahead of third-placed Sporting Lisbon, Juventus will know that their spot in the last 16 is far from guaranteed. If the Old Lady are able to leave the Allianz with three vital points on Wednesday night, the defending Serie A champions will once again book their spot in the next round. However, if Juventus come away empty-handed, they’re in grave danger of failing to make it out the group stages.
When the two sides played out the reverse fixture in the middle of September, Allegri’s side came out on the wrong end of a 3-0 hammering away at the Nou Camp. Juventus’ form since then can be best described as inconsistent. The defending Serie A champions currently sit third in the table, behind both Napoli and Inter Millan. Last time out in the Champions League, Juve were only able to salvage a point away in Lisbon and last weekend saw them shockingly lose 3-2 at Sampdoria. Despite a defensive unit that boasts the likes of Buffon, Chiellini, and Alex Sandro, Juventus have conceded at least one goal in seven of their last eight appearances.
Although their performances on the road may leave allot to the imagination, Juventus have won eight of the last nine fixtures at the Allianz and Allegri will know he has the attacking talent to cause the La Liga giants some troubles. Despite coming away empty-handed against Sampdoria last weekend, Argentinian forward Paulo Dybala managed to end his domestic goal drought by scoring his first Serie A goal in three games. But, the 24-year-old is yet to find the net in Europe this year, he has now gone 353 minutes without a Champions League goal.
After sitting out Juventus loss last weekend, the now former Italian international Gianluigi Buffon looks set to be recalled to Juve’s XI. Allegri will be unable to call upon both Juan Cuadrado and Marko Pjaca, the midfielder is still recovering from an injury that has seen him sidelined for the past eight months. Bayern Munich loanee Douglas Costa is looking to start the match.
Although many critics might say that the La Liga giants are a side underperforming, Ernesto Valverde appears to have taken to his new job with relative ease. Currently sat four points clear of second place Valencia in La Liga, Barca have already moved 10 points clear of fierce rivals Real Madrid. In terms of their form in this season’s Champions League campaign, the Catalan club have not been beaten in this years group stages, in fact, Valverde’s side have only conceded one goal in their last four European fixtures.
For the 2015 Champions League winners’ they currently sit top of Group D and if they’re able to pick up a single point on Wednesday night, Barca will book their spot in the knockout stage. Valverde’s side will be entering the penultimate game of the group stage in high spirits. On the weekend Barcelona won 3-0 away at Leganes and more importantly, Luis Suarez ended his own five-match scoring drought as he helped himself to a double. The Uruguayan will undoubtedly start alongside four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, Barca’s talisman is already the leading goal scorer in La Liga this year with 12 goals.
Still to be beaten in any competition this year, Barcelona have won 15 of their 17 appearances this season, drawing the remaining two. Although they may have suffered a 0-0 draw away at Group D strugglers Olympiakos last time out, Barcelona have already managed to score 17 goals when traveling away from the Nou Camp this year and have only conceded one goal in their last seven away matches.
After surviving a suspension for Barcelona’s 0-0 draw away at Olympiakos last time out, Ernesto Valverde will be able to call upon Spanish defender Gerard Pique. The center-back looks set to replace Javier Mascherano who will be sidelined with an injury. £90million summer signing Ousmane Dembele has returned to training but will not feature on Wednesday night, the French international has not traveled with the squad to Turin.
Key Factors to Consider
- Juventus have scored in 100% of their competitive home games this season and haven’t failed to score at home since September 2016
- Barcelona are yet to lose a competitive game this season
- Gonzalo Higuain has six goals in his last five appearances
- The last time the two sides met, Barcelona won 3-0 at the Nou Camp
- If either side come away with the win, they will secure their spot in the last 16
With such a star-studded attack on display from both sides, it is hard to see either team leaving the Allianz with a clean sheet intact. Although Juventus might boast a successful record when playing in Turin, the Old Lady have shipped at least one goal in seven of their eight previous matches, it’s highly likely that Messi and co will breach Juventus’ backline at some point.
Although we do expect Barca to book their spot in the last 16 on Wednesday night, don’t be surprised to see Juventus cause some of their own problems. Although he might not have found the net in this years tournament, Paulo Dybala has 12 Serie A goals in his last 13 domestic appearances, backing both teams to score and Barcelona to leave with three points seems like a logical bet here.
Verdict: Barcelona to win and both teams to score
Best Odds: 15/4
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