Tottenham vs Juventus: Champions League Preview
The lights at Wembley Stadium in London are about to go up for another magical Champions League night, as Tottenham and Juventus get ready to battle in the return leg of the round of 16. The first leg ended in a spectacular 2-2 draw, with Tottenham coming back from 2-0 thanks to the goals from Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen that levelled the early brace from Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain. The turning point of that game was Higuain’s penalty miss, the second one of the game, in the dying minutes of the first half. After the break, Tottenham forced the Bianconeri to drop deeper with their high-tempo passing and constant pressure, finding the equalizer with an Eriksen free-kick that caught veteran goalkeeper Buffon wrong-footed. A very good result for the English side, a difficult yet not impossible mission for Juventus. Allegri’s side, in fact, needs a win or a draw with 3 goals or more in order to go trough to the next round.
Both teams seem in good form right now. In the games following the Champions League clash at the Allianz Stadium Juventus and Tottenham have in fact managed to remain unbeaten. Besides the 2-2 draw in the FA Cup against minnows Rochdale, the Spurs have come out victorious in their other three fixtures against Crystal Palace, in the replay against Rochdale and in the league against Huddersfield, scoring 9 goals in total and conceding one. Juventus did even better, as they went on a series of 1-0 wins against Torino in the derby, Atalanta in Coppa Italia and against Lazio, the latter thanks to a great goal from Dybala in extra time.
A bit of history
Despite being on a 7-games unbeaten run against Premier League sides, Juventus history in the UK is not in favour of Allegri’s team. The Bianconeri have in fact lost 12, drawn 6 and won only 3 of their clashes in Great Britain, with the most recent one being a 2-1 win over Manchester City in 2015 Champions League group stage.
On the other hand, also Tottenham is on a 7- home games unbeaten streak against Italian teams, with Fiorentina being their most recent “victim” (3-0 win in 2016).
TOTTENHAM (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele; Son, Alli, Eriksen; Kane
JUVENTUS (4-3-3): Buffon; De Sciglio, Benatia, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Dybala, Higuain, Douglas Costa
PLAYERS TO WATCH
JUVENTUS – PAULO DYBALA
After missing the first leg due to an injury, the Argentinian gem is available again and will probably play on the right wing of Juventus attack. Last Serie A game against Lazio was his return in the starting line-up after more than a month and was an emotional return indeed. His last-minute goal, a mix of strength, balance and coordination, became even more fundamental after Napoli’s defeat at home against Roma. His and Higuain’s returns are vital for Juventus hope to go through. Everyone knows the magic that his left foot can create, but not everyone knows how to stop it. He will be the main danger to Tottenham defence.
TOTTENHAM – HARRY KANE
The Premier League Golden Boot winner of the last two campaigns, Tottenham striker Harry Kane will have to deal with a rough contender like Chiellini. The Italian defender commented on him ahead of their duel, saying that “he is one of the best strikers in the world”. The Englishman, though, has already proven to be up to difficult challenges and that there are no such things as impenetrable defensive walls for him. He will surely be one of the protagonists of the game, keeping Juventus defensive quartet under constant cosh and testing more than once Buffon reflexes.
PREDICTION: TOTTENHAM 1 – 2 JUVENTUS
It will be a very even game, one where both teams will struggle to avoid their opponent to score. Since both teams strengths balance themselves, the decisive factor could be the difference in international experience. Juventus are in fact more accustomed to these kind of games, they have more internationally tested players than the Spurs. Mentality is the key in tense games like this one and that could play in favour of the Bianconeri.