IT’S the big one on Saturday night. Can Juventus stop the might of Barcelona? We asked Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79).
Juventus v Barcelona | Saturday 19:45 | ITV1
So after 10 months of tournament football it all boils down to this – Juventus v Barcelona. In many winners an apt finale. Amongst the five major European leagues it’s these two sides and Paris St Germain who have dominated the most amongst their brethren. In fact a win here for either team would clinch a treble.
The key for me in this battle is the friction between Barcelona’s goal-heavy attack and the stoic defending of Juventus. What will come out on top on Saturday?
If we start with Barcelona we find a side who scored 110 goals over their successful 38 game La Liga campaign. A side that negotiated an awkward first quarter of the campaign to kick on and dominate the Spanish campaign.
It seems the longer the season has gone on the better Barcelona have become, this has been exemplified in their knockout stage results. Man City? Beaten home and away. PSG? Dismissed 5-1 on aggregate. Bayern? Humiliated 3-0 at the Nou Camp.
At the heart of all these victories are goals. Barcelona have gone Over 1.5 Goals in five of their six knockout games and in 13 of their last 14 games overall. Do you dare doubt their scoring prowess?
So it’s worth assuming that Juventus have to be at their defensive peak to stop Barcelona here. Sadly for them though they’ve been dealt a big blow in that department with the injury of Giorgio Chiellini. The Juventus icon has been present during their knockout victories over Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and Real Madrid and his absence will hurt.
Juve have conceded just three goals in the Champions League knockout stages, two less than Barcelona and it’s the discipline of their clean sheet performances against Dortmund and Monaco (twice) that needs to be replicated on Saturday.
But is that possible against the Messi/Neymar/Suarez triumvirate? A combination that has bled 120 goals this season. A combination that has notched in Barcelona’s last 14 games? I’m not so sure.
Chiellini’s absence pours further doubt over the chances of Juventus and I have to side with Barcelona on Saturday. There’s no way I can back them at best price 8/13 though. That seems an awfully short price for a game of this magnitude.
One thing we haven’t really touched upon is Barcelona’s impressive defence. They actually conceded less in La Liga than Massimo Allegri’s side did in Serie A (21 to 24) and have kept at bay the likes of Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Paris St Germain, Valencia and Manchester City this season. Impressive eh?
With this in mind I’ll take a chance on Barcelona winning to nil at 13/8 with BetVictor. I’ll top it up with Barcelona -1 on the Asian Handicap at 19/17 with the same firm and play the Correct Score markets backing 2-0 Barcelona and 3-1 the Spanish champions at 7/1 and 14/1 respectively.
Juventus v Barcelona – Barcelona to win to nil (13/8 BetVictor)
Juventus v Barcelona – Barcelona -1 Asian Handicap (19/17 BetVictor)
Juventus v Barcelona – Barcelona to win 2-0 (7/1 William Hill)
Juventus v Barcelona – Barcelona to win 3-1 (14/1 Coral)
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