UEFA Champions League Match Day Four (2)
The second phase of match day four returns on Wednesday, and after plenty of unforeseen results on Tuesday, we should expect the unexpected once again, as the stakes are at an all-time high for a spot in the Round of 16.
The largest upset took place in in Group C, where Liverpool disappointed their loyal supporters with a lethargic performance. The Reds failed to truly respect their opponents, which was evident by their starting eleven. Now the EPL side are in a must win situation over the next two match-days, if they have plans on returning to the UEFA finals.
This next group of heavy favorites should take notice, as they must be prepared to fight for their footballing lives at this stage of the tournament, with every team involved worthy adversaries.
Juventus vs Manchester United
J-Stadium, Turin, Italy
11-07-2018 - 3:00 pm ET - TNT
The second leg of this Goliath match-up returns to Italy, after Juve took all three points from the 'Theatre of Dreams'. Manchester United must now dig deep and come up with their own positive result, as they are in danger of being bumped out of the second spot in Group H.
Juventus sit in the drivers seat as the match-day arrives. Currently topping the table with an unblemished record, the "Old Lady" could lock up their spot in the next round with two matches to go.
Massimiliano Allegri continues to reach new heights while with the legendary club. Currently chasing an eighth straight Serie A title, the Italian head-man has also led the 'Zebra's' through the Champions league gauntlet twice, unfortunately his teams came up a little short in the Champions League finals.
The story-line heading into Wednesday's match continues to be on Cristiano Ronaldo. The former Red Devils danger man spent several successful seasons with the Manchester side and he would certainly love the opportunity to get his first European goal against his former team. Ronaldo should get plenty of chances to find the back of the net, the Portuguese superstar is certain to see a large amount of service from his supporting cast, as he continues to place his name in the UEFA record books.
The Italians are full of attacking threats throughout their starting eleven. Based out of a 4-3-1-2 alignment, they are able to dissect their opponents in several different ways. Juve are likely to control much of the possession against Mourinho's men. The Old Lady are certain to spend a bulk of the time on the visitors side of the pitch, using their wingers to bomb down the flanks, providing crosses into their array of tally's men.
The main focus will surely be on Ronaldo, but the guests must first contain Paulo Dybala to truly be successful, as the young Argentine has been a menace while on the European stage. Dybala tends to save his best for these high-profile contests, having already netted 4 goals in just 2 Champions League matches, he can surely dictate the outcome of this Group H affair.
Juventus have become a more attacking side as the years have passed, but this club will always have a true defensive philosophy at the end of the day. The hosts are known for getting a lead and then squeezing the life out of their competition. I will not be shocked to see the Italians seeking an early goal and then clamping down on the back-end, making life extremely difficult on the Red Devils, who already struggle to find many clear cut chances on goal.
Manchester United are barely clinging to their Champions League future. With a loss on Wednesday they could fall to the third place spot in the table, decreasing their odds of making a deep run in this season's tournament, placing added pressure on the Red Devils board to make a stern move.
Jose Mourinho seems to be repeating history once again. Known for flaming out in year three during his previous stints, the "Special One" is still fighting to reverse that trend, as he seeks to prove as his pundits wrong.
Mourinho will have his hands full against this Italian juggernaut. Juventus are a ruthless bunch who take no mercy on their opponents, as they tend to take advantage of opposing sides weaknesses, which the visitors are dealing with a whole host of internal matters.
The EPL representatives will make the trip without their top striker, with center-forward Romelu Lukaku picking up a injury before last weekends domestic match, Alexis Sanchez will now attempt to fill the Belgium's role. Sanchez has largely been a disappointment since forcing his way out of Arsenal, only accounting for 1 Goal and 2 Assists in all competitions, the Chilean will be asked to carry a heavy load while in Italy, as he attempts to provide a spark for this desperate Man-U squad.
The one true spark in the starting eleven continues to be Anthony Martial, the French-man has been spectacular since given a chance in the regular rotation. Martial had largely fell out of favor with Mourinho, but after scoring 5 Goals over his last 5 matches, the young trigger-man seems to finally have the blessing of the Portuguese head-man.
Manchester United's best chance to grab a positive result will come through the play of their crafty midfielders, led by former Juve starlet Paul Pogba, this unit will be asked to carry a heavy load on both sides of the pitch. Pogba is another French player who has failed to impress his manager during his time at Old Trafford, the World Cup member is full of talent, although he has greatly under-performed during his second stint in Manchester, still his creative skills while on the ball are world-class, and his services will be required to help unlock this stiff Juventus back-line, if the Red Devils have any chance of pulling the upset.
Juventus vs Manchester United - Match Prediction
Juventus have been a machine during this Champions League season, having yet to concede a goal through their first three matches. They are accustomed to keeping clean-sheets on a regular basis over this extended run of excellence.
Manchester United have been quite effective on the defensive side of the pitch as well, only allowing 1 Goal during their first three matches. There must be a concentrated effort to keep the home side off the score-board as long as possible. The Red Devils biggest fear is conceding a early goal, which will make for a long day while in Turin.
The home side have no real weaknesses, making matters even more complicated for the English sides hopes of picking up a much needed victory.
Expect a complete performance from the Italians, as they look to put this Manchester side away early, in what should be another professional multi-goal performance.
Juventus vs Manchester United - Match Tips
Juventus -0.25 -120 / 1.83 - 1st Half Spread
Juventus (TT) Over 0.5 -125 / 1.8 - 1st Half Goal
Juventus (TT) Over 1.5 -125 / 1.8 - Full Time Goals
Cristiano Ronaldo - Anytime Goal Scorer -105 / 1.95
UCL - Bonus Match Tips
Valencia vs Young Boys
11-07-2018 - 3:00 pm ET
Over 1 -135 / 1.74 - Total 1st Half Goal
Valencia (TT) Over 0.5 -135 / 1.74 - 1st Half Goal
Manchester City vs Shaktar
11-07-2018 - 3:00 pm ET
Over 1.5 -110 / 1.91 - Total 1st Half Goals
Over 3.5 -115 / 1.87 - Total Full Time Goals
Manchester City (TT) Over 3 -115 / 1.87 - Full Time Goals
Lyon vs Hoffenheim
11-07-2018 - 3:00 pm ET
Over 1.25 -120 / 1.83 - Total 1st Half Goals
Over 3.25 -120 / 1.83 - Total Full Time Goals
Lyon (TT) Over 1.5 -115 / 1.87 - Full Time Goals
Hoffenheim (TT) Over 1.5 +110 / 2.1 - Full Time Goals
Benfica vs Ajax
11-07-2018 - 3:00 pm ET
Both Teams To Score - YES -135 / 1.74
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