Champions League: Juventus vs Tottenham – Lineup, Preview and Prediction
In the first tranche of knockout matches in this season’s Champions League competition Spurs travel to Italy to take on Serie A Champions Juventus.
19:45 GMT, Tuesday 13th February, Allianz Stadium (Turin, Italy), BT Sport
In one of the more intriguing fixtures of the Round of 16, Tottenham head to Turin on Tuesday to play Max Allegri’s Juventus for a place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Having flown through a qualifying group that included champions Real Madrid and 2012 finalists Borussia Dortmund, Spurs might perhaps feel aggrieved that their reward for topping the group was the chance to face last year’s finalists and Serie A Champions Juventus.
The early knockout rounds of the Champions League are always tricky beasts to negotiate. With Mauricio Pochettino’s side heading away to the Allianz Stadium in the first leg, they will be looking to pick up an away goal without wanting to cede any goals to their opponents.
Tottenham will go into the match with a positive attitude though: unbeaten in all competitions since Manchester City beat them 4-1 in December, they will also take heart from their manager’s ability to manage games in Europe this season. If they can hold Juventus to a draw or even a one-goal margin win, Spurs fans will feel that they can force a result at Wembley for the return leg in March.
For Juventus, the season has been more of a mixed bag. Despite having not lost since they fell to Sampdoria in November, the Old Lady finds herself still trailing behind Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli in the league.
Still, Allegri cannot be written off easily. Having carried Juventus to two Champions League finals in three years, his team will go into this one the favourites giving this match everything of the potential classic about it.
Last Time Out
Fiorentina 0-2 Juventus (Serie A)
In a match in which the scoreline suggested a comfortable win for Juventus, the stats belie a very different story. Fiorentina’s 62% possession and 12 shots on goal could not translate into a goal while the away side’s four shots produced two goals.
The drama started early: the referee giving a penalty after the ball hit Giorgio Chiellini on the arm when he was defending a cross. However, referring the incident to VAR, the penalty was subsequently chalked off as a result of an offside earlier in the sequence, leading some cynics to question whether or not the authorities were doing anything they could to protect the Old Lady.
And the drama didn’t end there. When Federico Bernardeschi won a freekick on the edge of the box, there was only going to be one outcome: the former Fiorentina player bending the ball around Marco Sportiello in the Fiorentina goal.
When Chiellini played Gonzalo Higuain in on goal late on in the game for the Argentine to finish coolly, the game was sewn up for Juventus. They did not, however, look to be without their frailties.
Tottenham 1-0 Arsenal (Premier League)
With thoughts of revenge high in the Tottenham player’s minds, they managed to scrape past their old enemy in the end, despite looking comfortable for long periods of the game.
Through the course of the game, Harry Kane had a hat trick of good chances, only one of which he finished: heading home powerfully from a Ben Davies cross.
In the last few minutes of the game, Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette found himself with two good chances to drag his team back into the game. When he missed both, the second of which was much easier than the first, it became clear that the Frenchman could be finding himself dropping down the pecking order at the Emirates.
Juventus will be without Argentinian talisman Paulo Dybala who is still returning from a month-long layoff due to injury. He will join Juan Cuadrado and Blaise Matuidi on the bench.
In better news, Douglas Costa could find himself returning to the team, having missed their recent match against Fiorentina this weekend.
Unusually, Tottenham have a full-strength squad available to choose from for this fixture.
The big question is the inclusion of Toby Alderweireld, recently-returned from a long-term injury. If Alderweireld is preferred, Spurs could adopt the 5-3-2 that served them so well in the Bernabeu earlier in the competition.
However, with rumours on Monday morning suggesting that Jan Vertonghen is being kept in the UK to work on his fitness, Eric Dier could be included in the back three instead of the Belgian.
Key Battle: Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus) vs Harry Kane (Tottenham)
A battle between the old guard and the young pretender, all eyes will be on Harry Kane as he continues to make a name for himself on the European stage.
It is arguable that Harry Kane is the best number 9 in the world at the moment and so much of Juventus’ preparation in the run up to the game will be as to how to contain him.
The England international has 34 goals this season in all competitions, six of which have come in the Champions League so far. If he is on form, his team could ease past Juventus in what would be, all things considered, an upset.
Giorgio Chiellini, though, is an experienced old pro who has faced the best that the world has to offer both domestically and internationally.
Chiellini is not simply a defensive foil, however: he is also an important piece of Juventus’ attacking force. As he showed on Friday, if he is given space to move into, he will take it and could spring an attack from the central area.
Pochettino’s knockout record
Despite Spurs good record this time around, Mauricio Pochettino does not have a good record in knockout competitions. Think back to their rolling over to Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League in 2016 or the embarrassment against Gent in 2017.
Given the tactical give-and-go of a two-leg knockout fixture which includes the implementation of the away goal rule, it is imperative that Pochettino comes into this one with a gameplan over the two matches.
Jurgen Klopp has famously spoken of treating the four halves of the two legs as four individual games in their own right. If Pochettino follows this approach, it will be interesting to see how he approaches each of the halves.
Pressure’s on for Allegri
Max Allegri’s record in the Champions League is so impressive it’s hard to see him as anything but favourite going into this one.
However, his dominance in Champions League knockout fixtures is so assured that it could lead to a little complacency creeping in for these two matches.
With this in mind, it is imperative for Allegri to have his team come out strong on Tuesday in a bid to shock-and-awe their opponents. If they do this, then their may be no coming back for Tottenham in the second leg.
Prediction: Juventus 1-1 Tottenham
Expect this game to be a little more staid than the context might suggest it should be. If Spurs can keep Juventus to a 1-1 draw, they will go into the second fixture as favourites. They have shown they can do this at the Bernabeu – now for them to show they can do it in the Allianz Stadium.