Sports activities Mole previews Wednesday night time’s Champions League Group G showdown between Juventus and Barcelona, together with predictions, workforce information and doable lineups.
Coronavirus could deny followers a much-anticipated reunion between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, however it should nonetheless be a star-studded event between two golf equipment with legendary figures as their new managers, each seeking to make their mark.
Wednesday’s mouth-watering showdown can be Juventus’ 2 hundredth Champions League outing and victory would see them turn out to be the primary Italian workforce to chalk up 100 wins within the competitors – each landmarks which they’d relish reaching towards a workforce of Barcelona’s high quality.
Andrea Pirlo is not going to want reminding about his final showdown with the Blaugrana, which additionally occurred to be his remaining look in a Juventus shirt as Barcelona beat the Italian giants within the 2015 Champions League remaining.
Now the World Cup winner is within the Juventus dugout and making ready for his first Champions League house recreation as a supervisor, and he does so with questions already being requested of him.
Pirlo was one thing of a shock appointment contemplating he had solely taken over as Juve’s Beneath-23s coach days earlier, and the workforce’s outcomes and performances haven’t been totally convincing thus far.
The perennial Serie A champions, who’re gunning for a tenth straight title domestically, at present solely sit fifth after 5 video games of the marketing campaign, having dropped factors in three of these already.
Solely a 77th-minute strike from Dejan Kulusevski prevented Pirlo from struggling his first defeat as Juventus supervisor on the weekend, they usually have now drawn three of their final 4 Serie A outings, together with sharing the spoils with Crotone and Hellas Verona.
The Bianconeri weren’t totally convincing on matchday one both, though Alvaro Morata‘s second-half brace acquired their Group G marketing campaign off to a profitable begin away to Dynamo Kiev.
In fact, the absence of coronavirus-infected Ronaldo has not helped their trigger and the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will bear a check 24 hours earlier than kickoff to find out his availability for this match.
Juve will justifiably anticipate to seal their place within the knockout rounds as soon as once more, however it’s their double-header towards Barca which is more likely to decide first and second spot, and subsequently a neater route via the knockout rounds.
The Italian giants have received their final 4 Champions League house video games and have solely misplaced 4 of their 42 European outings on the Allianz Stadium, though three of these have come of their final 10 such matches.
The hosts could really feel that that is the absolute best time to face a Barcelona aspect nonetheless reeling from such a tumultuous 2019-20 marketing campaign on and off the sphere.
New boss Ronald Koeman initially seemed to have steadied the ship by beating Villarreal and Celta Vigo by an combination scoreline of 7-0 in his first two video games on the helm, however disaster has shortly engulfed the membership as soon as once more since.
Amid a backdrop of wage rows and dressing-room divisions, Barca have picked up just one level from their subsequent three La Liga outings, together with back-to-back defeats by the hands of Getafe and, on Saturday, Clasico rivals Actual Madrid at Camp Nou.
A home defeat to your biggest rivals is all the time a big blow, and one which leaves Barcelona as soon as once more in a state of flux inside weeks of the beginning of a brand new period.
The Catalan giants sit twelfth in La Liga after 5 video games, already seven factors off the pace-setters and with solely seven factors to their title.
A convincing matchday one victory over Ferencvaros, when 5 totally different gamers have been on the scoresheet, is their solely victory of their final 4 outings throughout all competitions, however they are going to face a a lot sterner check in Juventus.
Barca have by no means received away from house towards Juventus, though their total file towards Italian groups is much extra spectacular – no defeats of their final six and simply two defeats from their final 18.
The Spanish giants have a formidable file within the group levels too, going undefeated of their final three campaigns and shedding solely considered one of their final 17 such matches on the highway.
Nonetheless, in European matches as a complete Barca have solely received six of their final 17 away video games, they usually haven’t received one by greater than the odd objective for over two years now.
Contemplating their kind heading into this one, hopes is not going to be too excessive of that altering right here, though this can be a contest between two European giants who’re used to profitable much more continuously than they’ve managed thus far this time period.
Juventus Champions League kind: W
Juventus kind (all competitions): WDWDWD
Barcelona Champions League kind: W
Barcelona kind (all competitions): WWDLWL
All eyes can be on Ronaldo and whether or not he can return a unfavorable coronavirus check, which might clear him to play towards Barcelona and Messi for the primary time since leaving Actual Madrid.
Ronaldo has scored 15 objectives in his final 20 appearances versus Barcelona in all competitions, to not point out being the all-time main goalscorer within the Champions League, forward of perennial rival Messi.
Each gamers are anticipated to overlook this match too, whereas Alex Sandro‘s continued absence additional limits their defensive choices.
Paulo Dybala was handed a uncommon begin on the weekend and can hope to maintain maintain of his place within the workforce no matter whether or not Ronaldo is able to return.
Barcelona, in the meantime, can be with out the suspended Gerard Pique after he was despatched off within the 5-1 victory over Ferencvaros on matchday one.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen‘s continued absence additional weakens Barcelona’s rearguard, with Neto anticipated to get the gloves once more, whereas on the different finish Philippe Coutinho can be out with a hamstring downside.
The in-form Ansu Fati will begin once more alongside Messi, who’s the one participant to have scored extra objectives than Ronaldo within the Champions League group levels.
There can be acquainted faces on each side too, with Miralem Pjanic and Arthur having swapped between these two golf equipment through the summer time and Neto having additionally performed for Juve up to now.
Juventus doable beginning lineup:
Szczesny; Demiral, Bonucci, Danilo; Chiesa, Bentancur, Rabiot, Cuadrado; Ramsey; Dybala, Morata
Barcelona doable beginning lineup:
Neto; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; Pjanic, De Jong; Dembele, Messi, Fati; Griezmann
Head To Head
This would be the 14th aggressive assembly between these two sides, 11 of which have are available in UEFA competitors, with Barcelona nearly edging the head-to-head file.
Juventus have did not even rating within the final three conferences, however they’re unbeaten of their six earlier house video games towards Barca – their joint-best undefeated whole towards a aspect in European competitors.
The 2 sides have been most not too long ago paired collectively within the 2017-18 group levels, when Barcelona received 3-0 at Camp Nou and drew 0-0 in Turin.
We are saying: Juventus 2-1 Barcelona
Barcelona nonetheless have fairly just a few of the gamers that received the 2015 remaining towards Juventus, however as a workforce they appear one million miles away from with the ability to scale the heights of European soccer once more in the meanwhile.
Juventus haven’t been in nice kind themselves as they proceed to seek out their ft underneath Pirlo, however they appear in much less hassle than Barcelona and so we’re backing them to come back out on prime on Wednesday – significantly if Ronaldo is handed match too.
Prime betting tip
Our professional tipster companions at Sporita.com are predicting a double likelihood guess on a house win or an away win on this match. Click here to seek out out what else they’re predicting for this recreation and for extra of their tried-and-tested soccer suggestions.House/Away:knowledge