THESE two sides contested the 1997 Champions League final. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) looks for the best bet when they clash in Turin on Tuesday night.
Juventus v Borussia Dortmund | Tuesday 19.45 | Sky Sports 5
Juventus and Dortmund meet for the first time since their 1997 Champions League final showdown and I for one, am very excited to see this two-legged affair. Juve have been chalked up as slight favourites to progress and I’m not quite sure I agree with the bookmakers.
There’s plenty of stats and trends in the Old Lady’s favour going into the first leg tie in Turin. It’s true, Juventus are unbeaten in 46 home matches (winning 38 of those) and yes, it’s true they’ve avoided defeat in their last 21 games in all competitions. And did I mention the Old Lady have only lost twice in 28 Champions League fixtures in front of their home supporters (W17-D9-L2)? Well, I have now…
But I’ve been here before with Juve. I actually backed them to win the competition last season under Antonio Conte’s stewardship and they failed pretty poorly. Yeah, the Galatasaray game was a bit of a fiasco but the Italian giants should have done their business before that Istanbul calamity. And my argument is, they’re a lesser side without Conte and under Max Allegri’s watch.
Although they’ve switched to a back four under the former Milan boss rather than operating a five-man defence, Juve are still on their way to a fourth successive Scudetto. However, they’re six points worse off than at this stage last season in Serie A and I don’t see the same verve, craft and tactical intelligence that Conte’s team used to boast in abundance.
Juventus came though the group-stage having netted just seven goals (the second fewest of the 16 qualifiers) and they’ve certainly found the going tough when attempting to replicate their defensive domestic excellence on the European scene. Just two clean sheets in seven continental clashes at Juventus Stadium proves that point.
Those who want to defend the Old Lady will claim that neither of last year’s finalists Real Madrid nor Atletico Madrid could get the better of the Italian champions. However, Atleti met Juve when they’d already assured qualification and the Spanish champions were the better side in the two group meetings.
The hosts tend to struggle against energetic, high-pressing sides in Europe and that’s what Jürgen Klopp’s visitors will bring with them on their journey south. And so I do like the Black & Yellows getting something from this fixture; BetVictor make BVB +0.50 an 11/13 shot (that’s not far off 9/10 in more traditional odds) and that holds plenty of appeal. With this selection, we’ll have a winner should Dortmund avoid defeat.
The Germans don’t have a particularly impressive record on the road in recent Champions League knockout games (W1-D3-L3) but more often than not, this bet would have banked. And there’s most definitely a feeling amongst Dortmund fans that the corner may just be getting turned.
The fallen giants were two points adrift at the bottom of the Bundesliga three weeks ago but three consecutive victories have lifted Klopp’s men to the heady heights of 12th. Big name stars such as Ciro Immobile and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have been ditched, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang has flourished in the central striking role and Marco Reus has rewarded the club by signing a new contract and found form yet again.
And lets not forget, bar a pretty dismal display away to Arsenal when top spot was almost certainly secured in Group D, the Germans breezed through the group, plundering 14 goals in their six matches. They’re certainly no mugs, no matter what’s gone on in the first half of the season.
I’d considered a play on Both Teams To Score as I’ve doubts over both sides’ ability to keep the other out; Juve have shutout opponents in only two of their last eight at Juventus Stadium, which might surprise. But overriding this is the relatively low-scoring nature of the two teams in continental competition.
BTTS backers would have been let down in six of the Old Lady’s last seven in the Champions League and the same goes for six of Dortmund’s last eight, including all four of their previous travels abroad in this competition. Add into the mix that we’re now playing knockout football and I’d rather leave it untouched.
Instead, I’ll put my faith in Dortmund coming away from Turin without a defeat. They’re well capable of hurting their hosts but would be just as happy taking a draw back to Germany and I’m happier siding with the visitors than touching Juve at a shade of odds-against. After all, despite that proud home record, only six of their last 11 home Champions League games have been victories and nine of those matches were in the group-phase.
Juventus v Borussia Dortmund – Borussia Dortmund +0.50 Asian Handicap (11/13 BetVictor)
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