Juventus vs Atletico Madrid | Tuesday 09 December | Juventus Stadium | 21:45
Allegri’s Juventus are a point away from qualification but know that a win could put them on the precipice of a top-placed finish in the group. They were disappointing on Friday, only managing a turgid 0-0 draw with Fiorentina, but expect the Bianconeri to be more focused with the visit of table-topping Atletico. You have to admire the resolve of Diego Simeone’s Atletico, a side that could have easily faded into the ether following last season’s heroics. This could be a pulsating clash of European heavyweights that may have broader repercussions for the knockout stages of the competition.
To Win (90mins)
Atletico Madrid 26/10
Juventus have been in cruise control in Serie A, especially since the fairly rapid capitulation of Roma’s title challenge. Asamoah, Barzagli and Caceres are all out through injury, but there is still significant depth throughout Italy’s premier football side. Morata has proved an excellent attacking option alongside the ever enthusiastic Carlos Tevez. Llorente may be the one to miss out as Vidal is likely to play just behind the nominal front two. With a midfield three of Pirlo, Marchisio and Pogba, there are goals to be had in this team, but it is on the flanks that Juventus may find their way into the stout Atletico side.
Lichtsteiner and Padoin will harry the Atletico flanks at every opportunity, with their distinctly direct marauding style. This should stretch the Atletico side and make room for the likes of Pogba and Marchisio to surge forward ala Frank Lampard, lending potency to their attacks. This is where their 4-1-2-3 formation could find some sway against the dogmatic 4-4-2 that Atletico have become associated with. Juventus will need to break down a notoriously resolute Atletico defensive unit however; one which managed to see off Juventus 1-0 in Madrid in the reverse fixture.
Miranda and Cristian Ansaldi will both miss out on this crucial clash, which could see the young Uruguayan defender Gimenez drafted into the starting line-up. Griezmann has been exceptional this season while Mario Mandzukic has further enhanced his predatory mystique outside the confines of the Allianz Arena. Arda Turan and Koke remain the heartbeat of a side that often exceeds the sum of its parts. Turan and Griezmann will look to exploit the spaces left behind by both Lichsteiner and Padoin.
Juanfran and Godin have become bastions in defence, which has stood Atletico in good stead on their travels thus far this season. Their 2-0 away win at Elche was yet again another indication of the quality and determination that have become hallmarks of this Atletico generation. This may prove one small step too far as the primacy of Juventus’ need should see them through. Andrea Pirlo should be able to unlock the astringent Atletico defence with his uncanny range of passing.
VERDICT: Juventus 11/10
The Bianconeri are good value for the win at 11/10 and should be backed in this one. To boost returns, consider the halftime-fulltime double, with a draw at halftime and Juventus to win the second, priced at 37/10. It’s risky, but this should be a tactical battle that I feel Juventus will ultimately win, with perhaps Tevez coming up with the goods on the hour mark. Indeed, there a few decent bets to be made, the halftime draw result also good value at 19/20. Take your pick along this framework and one should emerge a happy punter from a tough fixture.
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