THE Champions League returns this Tuesday as Juventus welcome Real Madrid to the Juventus Stadium. Ben Levene (@BenLevene96) shares his best bets.
Juventus v Real Madrid | Tuesday 3rd April 2018, 19:45 | BT Sport
This time last season, Juventus were heavily underrated in the Champions League. The Old Lady would go onto progress past Barcelona and Monaco before losing to Real Madrid in the final. They face Real in the quarter-final here.
While Juventus aren’t as trendy as they were 12 months-ago, a case can still be made for the idea they’re underestimated in the betting. They are 25-games unbeaten, keeping 21 clean sheets in that period.
Massimo Allegri’s side have won nine of their last 10 on home turf, with the exception coming in a 2-2 draw with Spurs in the previous round of this competition. On that occasion they were without Biase Matuidi and Paolo Dybala, were 2-0 up and missed a penalty.
We also can’t forget that Spurs side took four points from two games against Madrid in the group stage.
Real Madrid can never be written off in the Champions League, mind. Los Blancos have won the competition in three of the last four seasons and despite their below par 2017/18 campaign, I don’t think anybody will be shocked to see Cristiano Ronaldo and co do so again.
The wealth of attacking match-winners at Zinedine Zidane’s disposal means Madrid are always a threat. Cristiano Ronaldo, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez were at the heart of the success in the previous round against PSG, while Isco and Gareth Bale could yet produce the goods too.
I find this game a tricky conundrum as a betting heat.
Juventus don’t seem to lose matches, so at odds-against they are tempting in the Draw No Bet market (23/20 Marathon). By the same token, Real Madrid’s firepower and big-game-know-how makes the 28/17 (Unibet) look huge. When I struggle to separate sides I’ll often side with the draw but at just a shade greater than 2/1 (117/50 Marathon), the value looks slim.
Instead, I’m going to uncharacteristically steer to goal the markets and side with Over 2.5 Goals (5/4 BetStars).
There’s this long-standing idea that Juventus don’t like goals. While that is partly true, they lost the shot-on-target count in both legs of the tie v Spurs and have since done so against both Lazio and AC Milan.
In the second leg against Spurs, Harry Kane rounded Gianluigi Buffon before putting wide in the first-half, and then hit the post late on in the second-half. Meanwhile, Son Heung-Min had numerous chances of his own.
Of course, these numbers may be somewhat deceiving given Allegri’s outfit are quite content to sit deep and soak up pressure. Giorgio Chiellini defended the penalty area phenomenally at Wembley last month. They will surely be keen to make the most of home advantage going into a trip to the Bernabeu later this month
Madrid have registered at least seven shots-on-target in 11 of their last 12 matches. They’ve done so in seven of their last eight away games. If they reproduce those numbers here, they’ll more than likely find the net given their calibre of attacking talent as we’ve already established.
Over 2.5 Goals is the outsider at 5/4 and looks worth chancing. It’s landed in 14 of Madrid’s last 15 games including both legs v PSG.
Both legs of Juventus’ last 16 tie against Spurs saw at least three goals. The Old Lady have scored in 48 of their last 51 home matches, scoring at least twice in 30 of those.
Card friendly Cakir
Cards might be a shrewd angle worth considering.
Referee Cuneyt Cakir awarded five cards when Chelsea hosted Barcelona in the previous round.
He’s shown 112 cards in 22 games this season, giving an average of five per-game.
Juventus v Real Madrid – Over 2.5 Goals (5/4 Bet Stars)