Juventus have invested great deal of money, time and effort to achieve success in Europe and heading into the knockout leg against FC Porto, the Italian giants are determined not to let it slip through their fingers. Still, in-form Porto will surely have a different agenda on their mind.
Portugal giants FC Porto welcome their Italian rivals on the back of a six-match winning run in the Primeira Liga, which saw them put great pressure on leaders Benfica, who are only a point in front of the Dragons at the top of the league. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men will be keen to keep the momentum going in the Champions league as well as they look to surprise the highly-favoured Juventus and pip them to a place in the quarterfinals. It will be easier said than done, but the Portuguese giants will be relying on the good form of the January signing Tiquinho Soares, who scored at least a goal in all of his games for Porto since the arrival from Guimaraes. An instant fit in the squad has five to his name already and will be expected to lead the attack for Porto once again. Porto were unlucky to finish second in the group stage of the Champions League, behind Leicester City, but will still do their best to keep up the fine home form in the competition in order to record a positive result ahead of the return leg in Italy.
Porto head coach Nuno Espirito Santo is happy to report a clean bill of health for the upcoming game. The hosts are expected to field their strongest squad against Juventus with Tiquinho Soares in the attack and Yacine Brahimi as his support.
Craving European Glory
Juventus are growing tired and frustrated of the lack of success in Europe and are keen to do whatever it takes to win the Champions League for the first time in over 20 years. Bianconeri have had a turbulent summer behind them, a summer which saw them part ways with Paul Pogba who went back to Manchester United in a world-record deal. On the other side, Juventus continued with smart investments as they brought Bosnian playmaker Miralem Pjanic to replace the Frenchman and Serie A top scorer from last season, Gonzalo Higuain. Having also added a couple of young-blood footballers, but seasoned professionals such as Dani Alves as well, Juventus are hoping to get a chance to mount the European challenge two years after that loss in the final to Barcelona. Thirteen wins out of 15 games in all competition give Juventus great credit and make them firm favourites to triumph against the Dragons, although scoring a goal and not losing the game is likely to be their priority for the first leg away in Portugal.
Defender Giorgio Chiellini is still some way off from making a full recovery, whereas Andrea Barzagli is also suffering from a thigh injury. Dani Alves will receive competition for his place in the team in Stephan Lichtsteiner, who has been added to the squad list even though he was expected to leave the club during January.
Juventus are going through a busy schedule and will try to record a positive result without wasting too much energy in Portugal. Bianconeri are in fine form, but so are the hosts as well and we should be blessed with a rather enjoyable performance.
Top pick: Draw 3.30 (23/10) @Betfair
Alternative pick 1: Under 2.5 goals 1.56 (5/9) @188bet
Alternative pick 2: Both teams to score – No 1.78 (31/40) @BetVictor