UEFA Champions League - Match Day Two
Match day two of this season's Champions League group stage starts back on Tuesday and the card is full of European contenders who all have intentions of lifting the finals trophy in May.
Defending champions Real Madrid highlight the first day of action. With the opportunity to collect four UEFA titles in a row, Los Blancos are chasing history in each fixture they encounter.
Domestic champs Manchester City, Juventus and Bayern Munich all continue their own championship quests, and with expectations at an all-time high, anything less than a title would be considered a bust.
20428 Juventus vs 20429 Young Boys
J-Stadium, Turin, Italy
10-02-2018 - 12:55 pm ET
Group H got off to an interesting start, with both favorites collecting all three points in very different ways. But as the second week of competition begins, both Manchester United and Juventus are exactly where many might have expected, topping the table in the pursuit of a Round of 16 birth.
Juventus were placed in challenging situation early into the first half of their trip to Spain, with star striker Cristiano Ronaldo being shown a red card in the 28th minute, leaving the 'Old Lady' with only ten men for the remainder of the contest.
The Italians rallied around the Portuguese, and scored their goals in the oddest of situations, winning two penalty kicks and leaving the Mediterranean Coast with a convincing 0-2 victory against Valencia.
Massimiliano Allegri will take every positive result that comes his way during Champions League play, understanding that his team is competing with the best teams in Europe, no victory is assured during this point in the proceedings. Allegri will now have to endure the consequences of Ronaldo's red card, the accomplished tally's man will not be eligible for their upcoming match with Young Boys, causing the Juve head-man to lean on his world-class depth.
The defending Serie A champs do have the luxury of calling on more than capable goal scorers, with Juan Cuadrado the most likely of candidates to replace Ronaldo, joining Mario Mandžukić atop the 'Zebra's' 4-3-1-2 formation.
Argentine sensation Paulo Dybala may also be asked to move forward and fill the former Real Madrid man's role. Although he seems to have found a more comfortable role playing a little deeper in attack, Dybala's game allows for him to cause havoc from many different positions on the pitch, causing for defenders to pay special attention to where he is at while moving forward in threatening situations.
Juve have converted to a more offensive side since the arrival of Allegri, but this team is still known for their no nonsense defensive strategy. The Italians tend to smother their opponents into submission, not allowing for any type of cohesion, which traditionally takes them out of their game-plans, and feeds right into how this Juventus squad enjoys playing football.
Those who appreciate skillful defending should pay close attention to the back-line of Alex Sandro, João Cancelo, Leonadro Bonucci and club legend Giorgio Chiellini, who all seem to play as one player. Their attention to detail is remarkable, which allows them to be in the perfect spot to intercept a pass and make a timely challenge in the final third of the pitch. This unit is a large reason for the sustained success and will once again prove to be huge factors in their pursuit for European glory.
Young Boys will arrive in Italy as heavy underdogs. The Swiss representatives did not get off to the start they would have liked on match-day one, losing on their own patch 0-3 to a unpredictable Manchester United squad. Now they get arguably one of the top five teams in the field as they match-up with this mighty Juventus side.
Gerardo Seoane looked to be outclassed on the sidelines against the 'Red Devils'. Jose Mourinho had his men one step ahead of this youthful set of players, making for their challenge on Tuesday seem insurmountable. Seoane must still attempt to motivate his men, as they will have a huge opportunity to pull a colossal upset, and place themselves back in the running to represent Group H.
Switzerland's top club are fully capable of hitting the back of the net, this particular unit has seven players with at least three goals scored, giving them them a punchers chance against the Italian outfit. Moumi Nicolas Ngamaleu, Roger Assalé and Christian Fassnacht have impressed while apart of the starting eleven, the young front-line members will be on full display for many of the larger clubs in the tournament to witness, as they are each destined to play on a larger stage while their career's progress.
Seoane should send out a standard 4-4-2 formation while at the J-Stadium, electing to have as many men back on the defensive side of the pitch, while they attempt to make life difficult on the hosts. The visitors will certainly be under a tremendous amount of pressure, expecting to soak up as much pressure as possible, and then strike on the counter attack, which should be their best course of action, while attempting to create the occasional set-piece situation, that can always be the ultimate neutralizer when playing against a more talented team.
Juventus vs Young Boys - Match Prediction
Young Boys were a great story leading up to the final 32 team draw, but their match-up with Manchester United proved just how outclassed they were in this season's four-some. The Swiss-men should still give a valiant effort in each match they take part in, but their youth and lack of experience on this enormous stage is largely apparent.
Juventus generally thrive against teams like Young Boys. The Old Lady tend to intimidate their opponents before the match even starts and Tuesday's fixture seems to fit that same mold. Juve will certainly control this match-up from the outset, using a heavy amount of ball possession to set up shop in the visitors side of the pitch, while making creative runs in the final third of the pitch, looking for accurate passes and pin-point service as they take a plethora of shots on goal.
I expect Juve to score a minimum of three goals, as they attempt to close the gap on Manchester United's goal differential lead in the table, and separate themselves as the number one seed in Group H.
Juventus vs Young Boys - Match Tips
Juventus -0.75 -135 / 1.74 - 1st Half Spread
Juventus -2 -115 / 1.87 - Full Time Spread
Juventus - Team Total Over 2.5 -110 / 1.91 - Goals
Juventus To Score In Both Halves - YES -135 / 1.74
Juventus 3 - Young Boys 0
UCL - Bonus Match Tips
20446 Hoffenheim vs 20447 Manchester City
10-02-2018 - 12:55 pm ET
Over 1.25 -130 / 1.77 - Total 1st Half Goals
Both Teams To Score & Over 2.5 Goals -125 / 1.8
Hoffenheim 1 - Manchester City 3
20431 AEK Athens vs 20432 Benfica
10-02-2018 - 3:00 pm ET
Benfica -0.25 -120 / 1.83 - Full Time Spread
AEK Athens 0 - Benfica 1