Can Juventus Knock Out Red-Hot Tottenham?
This season has been a frustrating campaign for Juventus, so far, and the woes might not be over yet. Before the season even started, we lost two important players from last season in Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci. We dropped points to sides that we would normally steamroll throughout the beginning of the season and we were unable to edge out Barcelona for the No. 1 seed in our UCL group. Heading into the next matchday in the champions league, several Juventus squad members have been ruled out and some are still in question.
In the wake of last year’s march to the Champions Cup final, Juventus and their supporters are desperate for another chance to take home the trophy. All the pieces were set for a successful campaign at the beginning of this season, but as the knockout stages draw near, things aren’t looking as hopeful as they once were. Tottenham have shown that they are one of the primary
contenders for this year’s cup, and Juve will need to best them if they want a shot at the final. With many of their key players getting on in their years (specifically Buffon), this may be Juventus’ best shot at winning the cup in the foreseeable future.
Many football spectators have seen Tottenham’s famed “trophy case,” complete with their 3-1 victory over Real Madrid, their finish ahead of Arsenal, their attendance record, and the merit they earned for putting the pressure on Chelsea. It’s one of the great jokes in the footballing world. While it’s true that Tottenham don’t have any silverware to show for their recent efforts, they are no joke this year.
Tottenham come into this match having only been defeated once (by Manchester City) since their 3-1 victory over Real Madrid. They sit in a slipstream to 3rd place in the EPL, with favorable fixtures in front of them. Several players, most notably Harry Kane, find themselves in personal best form this season. One clear advantage Tottenham have over Juventus ahead of the upcoming UEFA Champions League match is their health. They are sure to come to Torino with their best foot forward.
Juventus have been struggling with injury for much of the season and that has been the case, particularly over the past couple of months. Douglas Costa and Bernardeschi are still in question ahead of the UCL match. The pair are expected to be fit for the match with Tottenham, but both risk exacerbating their respective injuries. Paulo Dybala is doubtful to make an appearance. He is still recovering from a thigh injury but hasn’t been ruled out of the squad. As for the beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt no shows: Höwedes, Cuadrado, and Matuidi will all miss a considerable portion of the season, to include the Clash with Tottenham. Massimiliano Allegri has, however, confirmed that Rugani and Barzagli are healthy enough to play.
With the squad spread thin, it will be interesting to see if Juventus come out in full force against Fiorentina ahead of their Champions League match and risk playing tired against Tottenham, or if they play a backup squad (the youth team maybe?) and risk dropping points in Serie A. It will also be interesting to see if Juventus bring back the signature 3-5-2, with the fullbacks providing the width in place of the injured wingers. Either way, the chief setback is that Juventus are missing many of their star players, while Tottenham are all healthy and in form. The first leg will be played in Torino, where Juventus have historically been strong. With that in mind, Tottenham have proven themselves to be tough at their home field of Wembley Stadium. It is crucial for Juventus not to drop points in the first leg.
Not all hope is lost, however. Tottenham run the risk of showing up tired, considering that they have domestic cup and league fixtures scheduled ahead of their date with Juventus. Allegri recently made the discovery that he has a talented young fullback in Mattia De Sciglio. Both Khedira and Marchisio are healthy and in solid form. Gonzalo Higuaín is one of the only strikers in Europe in as good of form as Harry Kane. Oh yeah, speaking of which, the Juventus team and fanbase are still riding the high of the 7-0 triumph over Sassuolo.
Hopefully that recent triumph can provide Juve with the confidence needed to spur them on to victory. Such a massive victory can, however, be a two-edged sword. The players can’t afford to let the let that result go to their heads; they must show up prepared for a challenge with this lethal Tottenham squad. It will be interesting to see how the matches ahead of the cup tie pan out, and what squads and tactics will arrive in Torino on the day of but, until then, all we Juventini can do is sit back, wait, and pray for the best.
Photo: Daniele Badolato/Juventus FC via Getty Images