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The final stretch to their domestic league season won’t fill those associated with the Turin club with confidence heading into their Champions League run-in, while some would suggest that the recent decline in performances was down to the players’ minds likely on the visit of Lyon already.
All The Pressure Is On Juventus
The Old Lady are firm favourites to reach the quarter-finals for the fourth season in a row, but face stern competition from a Lyon side who head into this fixture with a 1-0 advantage courtesy of Lucas Tousart’s fine finish.
Despite dropping points to their group rivals Atletico Madrid on matchday one, Juve topped the group with relative ease, winning each of their last five games to send shockwaves through Group D and book their place in the knockout stages.
Since appointing Maurizio Sarri into the hot seat, the team best known for their ability to shut out the opposition has become the team vulnerable to counter attacks while leaking goals for fun. Sarri’s men have conceded 40 in the league, 10 higher than last season and 16 higher than in the 17/18 campaign.
The Italian giants have unusual defensive frailties and that will concern Sarri heading into a competition that boasts Europe’s elite attacking firepower.
Can Lyon Hold On To Their Fragile Lead?
Having lost on penalties after matching Paris Saint-Germain in the French League Cup final, Lyon’s hopes of European football next season now depend on them winning the Champions League.
Their chances, albeit slim, certainly aren’t out of their reach and these slim hopes will be boosted should they get past Juventus.
Being solid defensively will be key to advancing into the quarters for Rudi Garcia’s men, as could be the form of captain Memphis Depay who will hope to down the Italian champions, should he make a full recovery from a long-term injury.
A disappointing 7th place finish in the league was topped by their defeat in the cup final, with their eggs now immovably and optimistically placed in one basket, the biggest of them all.
Much like in their domestic league campaign, Lyon was unconvincing in the Champions League group stages too, a plague that was spread across Group G in fairness. A distinct lack of trailblazers was the outcome in the group with Lyon finishing a point ahead of Benfica in third place and a further three behind group winners RB Leipzig.
Despite both sides having unparalleled fortunes in their respective groups, the Champions League delivered first leg drama in central France, with Lyon being unlikely beneficiaries of the drama, unpredictably adding excitement to the competition.
Juventus have a recurring theme of thigh injuries keeping key personnel on the sidelines, with Sami Khedira, De Sciglio and Douglas Costa are all set to miss the visit of Lyon, while Paulo Dybala could join the collection of thigh injuries as he remains a major doubt.
As for Lyon, Kone is set to miss the round of 16 fixture with a muscular injury – Marcelo (thigh) and Kenny Tete (muscular) remain doubtful too.
The two out-of-form sides will be buoyed by certain individuals on the pitch, although Lyon could be missing their danger-man Depay. For Juventus, however, the absence of Dybala won’t prevent Cristiano Ronaldo from having his say. After all, he is the life insurance policy when it comes to the UEFA Champions League knockout stages, having netted over 60 times in this stage of the competition.
Much like in the only the other round of 16 clash, the tie could be decided in transition, with Lyon expected to sit back and hit their opponents on the break. Although it isn’t expected that Garcia’s men will rank highly in the expected goals table with this approach, so they will be relying on the potency of 22-goal forward Moussa Dembele.
Individual battles will be where this game is won and perhaps lost with Ronaldo set to light up the big stage once again. Lyon’s resistance will be tested by Juve’s undeniable firepower, but they will travel to Turin with a game-plan to frustrate rather than take the game to their opponents with their 5-3-2 system.
At time of researching odds, there were only a few select bookmakers available to review for this fixture. More bookmakers than those shown will inevitably catch up and also offer odds on the markets mentioned below.
In the Champions League, Juventus haven’t struggled to create opportunities but taking them has been an issue, certainly in the group stage. In their 2-1 victory over Lokomotiv Moskow, it took a late Dybala double to turn the game on its head, having registered 28 shots on goal. The distinct lack of a ruthless edge will have to be sharpened heading into the second leg but given the fact, Juventus claimed victory by a one-goal margin in four of their six group stage matches, this particular tie could be decided by a similar deficit. Juventus to win by one goal is priced as follows:
Since the turn of the year and perhaps more prevalent in the post-lockdown period, Juventus have been notorious for their second-half displays – waring down the opposition – then dealing the killer blow. This unorthodox style often preys on the opposition’s tiredness, whereby the quality of the superior opposition eventually tells. Although Juve’s form has drifted since sealing the Serie A title, a lot of their goals still come in the second half – 17 out of their last 24 to be exact. This statistic and their late showings on the European stage mean a punt at Draw – Half time and Juventus – Full Time could get your betting taste buds ticking.
Having hit a red hot streak in a Lyon shirt prior to the curtailment of the French Ligue 1, Moussa Dembele’s 22 goals could be worth value in the betting market, with a punt on the French man to score first. If Depay is out with an injury problem, Dembele will be the man tasked with spearheading Lyon’s attacks as a lone figure, although he is yet to score in the Champions League this season.
Value Bet Builder Picks
Ronaldo’s superpowers reach their peak in the knockout stages of the Champions League, so who would back against him producing a moment of brilliance to take the game away from Lyon here.
Juventus have been involved in some low-scoring affairs in European competition, usually winning by one goal. Whether this changes on Friday night, with the game being played under post-lockdown conditions, remains to be seen.
*All odds shown were correct at time of writing (22:00, 4th August 2020) & are subject to change at any time.
It is expected that the Bianconeri will rise to the occasion in this contest, having placed their eggs in one basket and signifying their intent to go deep into this competition. Although undoing the clutches of Lyon’s grasp won’t be easy in Turin, it’s on these occasions when Cristiano Ronaldo joins the party and this contest will surely hinge on the mood of the big game expert.
Unlike Juventus, Lyon haven’t played a competitive fixture since March and their calendar has been filled out by friendlies to keep up their match sharpness. This means Juve will have the upper hand in their recent experience of competitive fixtures, but can they add a ruthlessness to their game to take the tie away from Garcia’s well-drilled side?
Are you equally interested in the other Champions League fixture occurring on the 7th August? Check out our Man City v Real Madrid preview which provides just as much analysis and insight, along with our recommended value bets.
Author: Tom Griffin