Talk about exciting attacking football; yesterday’s Champions League games in Manchester and Leverkusen had it all, 14 goals in total, a record of some sorts. It was an explosive night for strikers and forward players; but a damning one for defenders especially at the Etihad where upwards of £200 Million has been spent on Center backs over the last few season with little solution in site.
Today; we seek and ask for same of the same, I must say that I have my doubts that lightening will strike twice and we would have free scoring and free flowing football in back to back Champions League nights. Oporto and Seville are the destinations today; featuring three clubs in the Championship mix in their respective leagues and one whose Cinderella story is heading towards their worst nightmare in under one year.
Porto v Juventus
Juventus continue to be the leading lights in Serie A; heading for a sixth straight league title. The Champions League is where the Turin giants want to show that they are part of the European elite; they need to win another European title to consolidate on the domestic dominance. At the Estadio do Drago, they face a Porto side who have been in a rich vain of form lately; winning at the weekend 4-0 and currently on a six match winning streak;incidentally, Juventus are also on a six match winning streak of their own and go into this game as clear favorites considering that in their previous meetings the Old Lady has had the upper hand.
From a tactical perspective it would be nice to see how Porto’s band of youngsters deal with their more illustrious and experienced counterparts from Turin, especially with huge doubts on Giorgio Chiellini’s fitness and the disciplinary issues surrounding Leonardo Bonucci. The game will be won in midfield with Porto set to revert to its 4-1-3-2 Champions League formation and Juventus embracing the 4-2-3-1 formation of late. Will Allegri go in with a calmer, laid back approach or would the events of the last two weeks in the Champions League tilt the general approach of the game. Nuno would look to use the pace of Brahimi to gain some advantage of the spaces left behind by the Juventus full back; this could work in Porto’s favour if Dani Alves gets the nod ahead of Stephan Lichtsteiner; the latter is the better disciplined defender. Porto may never get a better chance against a defensively depleted Juventus side.
My Verdict: Juventus Win or Draw (Both Teams to Score)
Sevilla v Leicester City
Talk about the ultimate Cinderella story; where fiction became an absolute fact and in the space of one year; its heading to be the grimmest and darkest nightmare in the history of football. Be that as it may Leicester City have earned their right to sit at the table of European Elites; this might be the stage they bow out; it won’t be without a fight.
Sevilla on the other hand are on a new course, a new direction, a departure from the Unai Emery era; Jorge Sampaoli has tinkered, changed and flirted with the way this team has played since he took over at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan; where they have only lost to Barcelona and Juventus, playing some dazzling football along the way. Unfortunately, this tie seems more of a mismatch considering the travails of Leicester City with only two goals scored in 2017 so far; defensively the team is an absolute shambles and I do not see how this Leicester side can stop Sevilla from scoring at least three goals; that’s how bad the situation is at the Midlands club.
My Verdict: Sevilla to win comfortably (Over 2.5 goals)