It was the unlikely 2-1 win at the Etihad that ended the poor run of results for Juventus back in September and Manchester City are now in a similar position following the 4-1 home loss to Liverpool. Even if the Citizens have already qualified, they will want revenge on the Bianconeri for said defeat, while also looking to leapfrog the Italian giants in the group standings.
The likes of Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tevez were always going to be missed after they had decided to quit the Bianconeri in the summer, but following the heavy summer recruitment, nobody could imagine that Juventus would experience so many problems in the opening exchanges. Even so, it was only a matter of time before the Old Lady returned to the right track, but coach Max Allegri and his men have got to be congratulated for coping well with the pressure and getting back to where they belong. A three-match winning run in the league saw Juventus revive their title bid and climb within nine points of Serie A leaders Inter Milan, while four points from the double-header against Borussia M’gladbach all but secured their place in the next stage of the Champions League. Nevertheless, having finally recorded several good results in a row, the Bianconeri will give their best to extend the promising run against severely weakened and out-of-form Manchester City. In the absence of Hernanes and Roberto Pereyra, Max Allegri will be forced to switch to either 3-5-2 or 4-3-3, with Sami Khedira and Patrice Evra likely to miss out as well through muscle and ankle injuries respectively.
Buoyed by the several high-profile arrivals in the summer, Manchester City were seen as the main candidates for the Premier League trophy, especially when it became clear that Chelsea’s title defence would remain just a dream. However, the Citizens have failed to live up to the billing despite sitting at the Premiership summit until recently, and it is clear that Manuel Pellegrini’s side will have to improve if they want to challenge for major honours. Manchester City were in a difficult position in the Champions League as well following the 2-1 loss in the opening fixture against Juventus, as they were also very close to dropping points in Monchengladbach and Sevilla, achieving wins in both of those matches by scoring in injury time. They then impressed to beat los Rojiblancos on the road and book their ticket for the Last 16 stage, but then produced two under-par showings in the Premier League, which create plenty of problems ahead of the trip to Turin. The 4-1 loss to Liverpool proved just how badly Vincent Kompany and David Silva are being missed, and with neither expected to recover in time for the Juventus game, the poor streak looks likely to continue, especially since Sergio Aguero is still not fully fit and Wilfried Bony misses out as well.
Juventus proved they have what it takes to beat star-studded Manchester City side and given that they head into the return match in much better spirits than two months ago, we would not be surprised if they clinch qualification with another win. With Kompany and Silva missing and Aguero yet to hit top form, we cannot see the Citizens getting anything from this match.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 5/4
Bookmaker: William Hill
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