Thursday, April 27, 2017

Prediction: Juventus vs Barcelona

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: Bet365

Serie A champions Juventus lock horns with Catalan giants Barcelona in the replay of the 2014-15 Champions League finals and Bianconeri are relishing the opportunity to get their payback against an out-of-form La Liga side.

Juventus

Juventus have gone through a bit of a hiccup over the past couple of weeks with Max Allegri’s men drawing and losing to Napoli in a Serie A game and a Coppa Italia clash, respectively. The Cup defeat came at no cost for Bianconeri however, as Juventus sealed their place in the final despite the 3-2 loss as the aggregate result of 5-4 worked in their favour. Juventus got back to winning ways at the weekend however to make a suitable introduction for the highly-anticipated duel against Barcelona. The Old Lady dispatched Chievo thanks to a brace from Gonzalo Higuain, who is continuing with his impressive goal scoring exploits and who will be the biggest threat against the Catalans as well. The 29-year-old Argentina forward has bagged four goals in his last two appearances for Juventus taking his tally to the total of 27 goals this season. Juventus are well on track to seal their sixth consecutive Serie A title and the Champions League glory remains their biggest dream. Therefore, we should expect to see a committed Juventus on Tuesday night and a strong performance from the Italians who wish to get the best possible result in the first leg.

Team News

Juventus boss Max Allegri rested a couple of his first-team stars and should have a fresh squad against Barcelona.

Mario Mandzukic is expected to get back from his injury in time to face Barcelona, but his compatriot Marko Pjaca has been ruled out for the rest of the season with his knee problem. Additionally, Moise Keane is unavailable due to an ankle injury.

Barcelona

Barcelona shot themselves in the foot at the weekend as they suffered a surprising and a rather unexpected 2-0 defeat at Malaga which saw Luis Enrique’s men miss their chance to close the gap at the top of La Liga table and go level with Real Madrid, who slipped to a 1-1 draw in the Madrid derby. Barcelona attempted to recover from the first-half goal from Ramirez, but were given a huge slap in the face as they saw their efforts drowned by Jony, who fired a 90-minute shot to seal the win for the home side. The Malaga defeat will have frustrated the Catalans, who will have to work hard to regain their mental stability and calmness required against a team like Juventus, who could go on to punish even the slightest of weakness. Luis Enrique’s challenge is a daunting one, but if anyone can overcome a challenge than that definitely are the Catalan giants. Barcelona will have some selection headaches travelling to Turin, but the very best players will be raring to go.

Team News

Influential midfielder Sergio Busquets misses the game in Italy due to his yellow card suspension, whereas Rafinha is another confirmed absentee due to his knee problem.

Arda Turan is recovering from his groin injury and is not expected to play a part in the Tuesday’s match, together with Aleix Vidal who still made the trip to Italy.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Barcelona won 8 of their last 10 matches in all competitions
  • Gonzalo Higuain scored 27 goals for Juventus this season
  • Juventus have racked up 11 straight victories on home soil
  • The Catalans lost three of their last five away games
  • Over 2.5 goals were scored in last two meetings of the two sides

Conclusion

A keenly-contested clash is expected at the Juventus Stadium on Tuesday night as both Juventus and Barcelona have a lot at stake. The hosts are seeking vengeance for their Champions League loss in the finals and we should witness a much more attack-minded Juventus this time. Barcelona have suffered a dip as they succumbed to a defeat last time out, but there is no doubt a response will be requested.

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: Bet365

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