Juventus v. Spurs: let’s be mean to an Old Lady!
This is what the Champions League is about. Testing yourself against the best in Europe. And on recent evidence, they don’t come much better than Juventus.
Finalists last year and twice in the last 3 editions for the Champions League, Massimiliano Allegri’s mean certainly know how to navigate the latter stages of the competition. Anchored by club legends such as Buffon and Chiellini, the current squad boasts a hugely impressive defensive record of just one goal conceded in their past 16 matches (since losing 3-2 to Sampdoria on 19 November, Juve have recorded 15 shutouts in all competitions – including clean sheets against Barcelona, Napoli, Inter and Roma).
Going forward, they certainly do not lack options either. Between Higuain, Dybala, Mandzukic, Pjanic and Cuadrado, Juventus boast plenty of attacking talent.
Despite all of this, Juventus supporters are extremely worried about the tie against THFC. Why? Several important factors:
1) Harry Kane is currently deadly in front of goal. Juve’s Sami Khedira, who has played with many great players, rates Kane as the best striker in world football at the moment. No team is going to look forward to playing him now. Couple him with more attacking talent in the form of Son, Eriksen and Alli, and our team have the potential to score against anyone.
2) Spurs are arguably the form team of the moment in England. Since our defeat against Manchester City on December 16th, we are unbeaten in 12 games (having won 8 of these). We’re also fresh off a run of 7 points from 3 games against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.
3)Our youth and work rate offer a very different style of football to the average Italian side, and while Juve have a hugely experienced side, a lot of their key players are in the twilight of their careers. Will they be able to keep up with us?
4) Topping a Champions League group with current title holders Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund did not go unnoticed.
5) Finally, and perhaps crucially, we will be travelling with an almost full squad. With the notable exception of Toby Alderweireld, who is being rested for the 1st game but who will likely be back in contention for the return game, every other player should be available for selection. Juve, on the other hand, are missing Howedes, Dybala, Matuidi and Cuadrado, and will likely have to resort to picking players who are not fully fit (Bernardeschi).
All in all, the tie is shaping up to be a fantastic challenge. It will serve as a measuring stick of our current progress and will tell us where we rank in European football. The game could go either way, but I’m quietly confident about our ability to make Juventus nervous.