2021 Champions League Round of 16 Predictions: FC Porto vs Juventus
When FC Porto and Juventus clash on Wednesday in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matchups, it will be just their fifth-ever Champions League encounter after the 2017 quarterfinals, where Juventus prevailed 2-0 away from home and 1-0 at home to win the tie 3-0 on aggregate. Juventus are in the Round of 16 once again thanks to topping Group G with 15 points (W5, L1) over second-place Barcelona, whom they beat on goal differential. Porto finished second in Group C to Manchester City with 13 points (W4, D1, L1).
FC Porto knows what it’s like to taste success on the European front. They are two-time winners of the Champions League (1986-87 and 03-04), two-time winners of the UEFA Cup/Europa League (2002-03, 10-11) and one-time winner of the UEFA Super Cup. They are also perennial powerhouses in the Portuguese League, so they do possess the pedigree needed to give Juventus a run for their money.
As for Juventus, the two-time Champions League winners are looking to get back to the finals for the third time in the last seven 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 the overwhelming -500 favorite to advance to the quarterfinals. 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 +1200. That is fourth favorite behind the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich. If you are willing to back a long shot to win this trophy, you can grab Porto at +15000 to triumph, or +350 to pull off the upset over Juventus.
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First Leg: Estadio do Dragao, Porto; Wednesday, February 17 at 3:00 pm
Second Leg: Allianz Stadium, Turin; Tuesday, March 9 at 3:00 pm
FC Porto Storylines
FC Porto comes into this game on a rather precarious run of results. They’ve drawn each of their last four games, and because of that have fallen out of touch with league leaders, Sporting, who sit on 50 points compared to Porto’s 41. Porto’s main issues this year has been preventing goals as they own the worst goals against record (21 allowed in 19 games) out of the top six teams in the Portuguese League. Porto has kept just one clean sheet over their last four games. And going up against talented players that Juve possess, it could be a tough ask for them to try and keep Juve from finding that elusive away goal.
From an injury perspective, the Portuguese side will have to deal with plenty of injuries to key guys as both fullbacks will miss out on this contest, along with midfield lynchpin, Otavio.
Probable Starting XI: Marchesin; Manafa, Mbemba, Pepe, Sarr; Corona, Oliviera, Uribe; Diaz, Marega, Taremi
It’s been a rather up-and-down domestic campaign for Juventus, who find themselves in an unfamiliar position this late in the season. Always the dominant force in Serie A, the “Old Lady” finds themselves in fourth place, eight points back of rivals Inter Milan. Juventus have been done in by six draws, most of which came from the leading position, which means points dropped. They come into this contest with the taste of defeat in their mouths as they lost 1-0 to Napoli in their latest contest. The team should be focused and ready to continue their winning ways on the European front as they’ve won four straight Champions League games, including a 3-0 win away at Barcelona on Matchday Six, which sealed up top spot in the group. Juventus are stingy defensively, having given up just two goals over their last eight games, so don’t expect Porto to be able to break down the defense and bag a bunch.
Injury wise, Juventus will be without Arthur, Dybala, Ramsey and possibly Bonucci, who is struggling with a leg injury. Nonetheless, the attack still features Ronaldo and Morata (who is tied for first in CL goals this year with six), and that should be good enough to get the job done in the first leg.
Probable Starting XI: Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, De Ligt, Alex Sandro; Chiesa, Bentancur, Rabiot, McKennie; Ronaldo, Morata
FC Porto vs Juventus Predictions
This fixture is Juventus’ to lose, and Vegas knows it. They’ve priced the Italian side at an outrageous -500 to advance. And while I would never recommend laying that kind of juice, the series bet is definitely Juventus. You can grab Juve at -0.5 (+100) in the first leg and hope they come out with authority and take a massive advantage back home to Turin. Depending on how the first leg goes, the second leg should set up nicely for goals, and we’ll look to play the over given the right situation.
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