Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus Expert Betting Picks for Champions League
When Atletico Madrid and Juventus clash on Wednesday in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matchups, it will be just their second ever Champions League encounter after the 2014 group stage where Atletico Madrid prevailed 1-0 at home and held Juventus to a nil-nil draw away from home. Juventus are in the Round of 16 once again thanks to topping Group H with 12 points (W4, D2) over second place Manchester United. Atletico Madrid finished level in Group A to Borussia Dortmund with 13 points (W4, D1, L1) but got placed second due to goal differential.
Atletico Madrid have never won a European title in their history but do hold the dubious distinction of being the only European side to make it to three Champions League Finals without winning a single one. The Spanish side
As for Juventus, the two-time Champions League winners are looking to get back to the finals for the third time in the last five years. Juventus are hoping this year is different however, having lost their last two trips to the finals against Spanish opposition in Barcelona and Real Madrid. Juventus have planned their entire season around triumphing on Europe's biggest stage, so it'll be interesting to see if the 'Old Lady' has what it takes to not only win on the Italian front, but across Europe as well.
As it currently stands, Juventus is -225 favorites to advance to the quarter-finals. If you believe that the 'Old Lady' has what it takes to win the big one and finally get over the hump, you can grab them at a nice price of +700. That is fourth favorites behind the likes of Manchester City, Barcelona, and Paris Saint Germain. If you are willing to back a long shot to win this trophy, you can grab Atletico Madrid at +2500 to triumph, or +162 to pull off the upset over Juventus.
First Leg: Wednesday February 20 @ 3:00 pm
Second Leg: Tuesday March 12 @ 4:00 pm
Atletico Madrid Storylines
Atletico Madrid currently sit second in La Liga on 47 points, just seven points off of first place Barcelona. They come into this fixture in good form overall given the fact that they've lost just two games since losing in the Champions' League group stage to Dortmund on October 24. That's a run of 13 wins, seven draws and two losses. The problem with that record is that those two losses have come in two of their last three games - a 3-1 home loss to Real Madrid and a shock 1-0 loss away to Real Betis.
The second problem Madrid face is that opponents simply know how to play them. They are still the same Madrid team that sit back and defend and then quickly hit you on the counter attack. In La Liga they have just 34 goals scored in 24 games which is the sixth most goals. They do however own the best defensive record, giving up just 17 goals in 24 games. They are going to need to be defensively sound against a Juventus team that has an abundance of fire power.
From a lineup perspective, Madrid are going to be without the services defender Lucas Hernandez as he will miss out with a knee problem. However, they will likely get the services of Diego Costa and Stefan Savic who both made their return from injury this past weekend against Rayo Vallecano. Furthermore, Koke has also trained ahead of this first leg and is likely to draw into the starting XI for Diego Simeone's side.
Probable Starting XI: Oblak, Arias, Gimenez, Godin, Filipe Luis, Koke, Rodrigo, Saul, Vitolo, Morata, Griezmann.
It's become rather boring to watch Juventus coast through Serie A, as the Italian Giants vie for their 8th straight Italian league title. The 'Old Lady' come into this matchup in fine form having lost just one game in their last 13 matches in all competitions. Juventus seemingly score goals for fun in Serie A, posting a goal scoring record of 52 goals for with just 15 conceded. That is the best mark in the league on both ends of the field and it's going to take a bigger defensive effort than accustom to if they are to advance past the Round of 16.
From a lineup perspective, Juventus is set to deploy the custom 4-3-3 formation with Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala set to lead the attack. Juventus do not have many injury concerns to deal with as they already knew that they were going to be without Juan Cuadrado for this fixture. Douglas Costa and Daniele Rugani are the only two players who are questionable to feature and if either of them can't go, Juventus has enough depth to cover their bases.
Probable Starting XI: Szczesny, Sandro, Chiellini, Bonucci, Cancelo, Matuidi, Pjanic, Khedira, Ronaldo, Mandzukic, Dybala
Atletico Madrid vs Juventus Predictions
If you are a Juventus supporter this is quite possible the worst team you could have drawn. Atletico know how to defend, and they do it extremely well. They also counter extremely well, so Juventus will have to decide on how many men they want to commit forward without exposing themselves on the counter-attack. However, Juventus may be the only other team left in the tournament that can defend as well if not better than Atletico. I expect this to be a low-scoring affair with just a few goals over the entire 180 minutes. We will side with the Italian squad to advance based on the fact they have Ronaldo wearing their colors and that all they need to do is avoid defeat in the first leg. Give me Juventus to advanced.
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