Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.
Juventus vs Real Madrid | Tuesday 05 May | Juventus Stadium | 20:45
Tuesday’s clash in Turin sees two contrasting football ideologies going head-to-head as Allegri’s pragmatic Juventus go up against the flamboyance of Real Madrid. This is a repeat of the 2002/2003 quarter-final, with Iker Casillas the sole survivor of that match in favour of the Spanish giants. The defending champions have yet to hit full stride this campaign, with that puzzling 4-3 turnaround against Schalke still lingering in the consciousness of the club. It will be interesting to see exactly how positive Ancelotti decides to be, especially considering the resilience of the Old Lady.
To Win (90mins)
Real Madrid 29/20
Juventus are now officially Italian champions, utterly dominating a league struggling to maintain intensity as well as relevance on the European stage. Carlos Tevez has injected some flair into the side while Morata’s development has come on in leaps and bounds. One huge negative going this tie will be the absence of influential French midfielder Paul Pogba. The 22-year-old has yet to fully recover from a hamstring injury, adding huge defensive pressure on the likes of Marchisio and Vidal.
I fully expect Allegri to opt for the favoured 5-3-2 approach, especially considering the pace of Ronaldo and Benzema. Lichtsteiner and Evra will have to be on the top of their respective games while Andrea Pirlo will look to control the tempo of the encounter. Modric’s absence could give the Italians the tactical edge in the middle of the park as Pirlo’s dead-ball proficiency should give Madrid some problems. Huntelaar terrorised the Galaticos at set-pieces for Schalke, a fact that should embolden Juve.
It’s been a rather weird season for the defending European champions. Despite being within a whisker of Barca and still going strong in Europe, one can’t help but sense a degree of unrest amongst the exacting Madrid fans. And something definitely changed in the wake of that inexplicable 4-3 home loss to Schalke. Set-pieces will be a huge concern for Ancelotti, especially with the technical brilliance of Andrea Pirlo. Surely Ancelotti will opt for Varane alongside Ramos, while Luka Modric’s absence continues to plague the Spanish side.
Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale should be back for the tie, which could actually upset the fundamental balance of the team. Toni Kroos struggled against Atletico in the holding role, with Isco not providing the ideal midfield foil for the German star. The absence of Paul Pogba could give Madrid the edge in what will likely be a congested midfield encounter. Cristiano Ronaldo will always be the focal point of the Madrid attack, but for me it may be James Rodriguez who provides the impetus for Madrid. The Colombian star has been sensational since returning from injury, adding a completely new dimension in that number ten role.
VERDICT: Both Teams to Score – YES 19/20
Cristiano Ronaldo scored three goals over the two group games last year, exposing the Italians’ lack of pace at the back. That 2-2 draw in Turin last year still resonates in the memory and I suspect a similar result this year. The Italians have probably overachieved thus far and will battle to contend with Madrid’s pace. That being said, their tactical abilities will pose problems for the defensively porous champions throughout proceedings. Both Teams to Score is where I’m heading at 19/20.