An in-form Juventus side will provide a stiff test of Tottenham Hotspur’s credentials when they host them at the Juventus Stadium in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter on Tuesday (19:45 GMT, live on BT Sport 2).
Juventus recorded their 11th consecutive victory in all competitions with a 2-0 win away to Fiorentina on Friday. Goals from Federico Bernardeschi and Gonzalo Higuain powered them to a victory that allowed them to keep up the pressure on league leaders Napoli.
That is a battle that is likely to be fiercely contested for the remainder of the campaign, but the manner in which Juventus have tightened up defensively in recent months has certainly given them a strong platform to pursue a seventh consecutive Serie A title.
After a relatively shaky start to the campaign, perhaps a result of last summer’s departure of Leonardo Bonucci to AC Milan, their defensive unit has now very much regained its footing. Incredibly, Juventus have conceded just once in their last 16 matches in all competitions, and come into Tuesday’s match on the back of six consecutive clean sheets.
Their attack isn’t bad either. Juventus have scored more goals than any other side in Serie A this season and possess, in Higuain and Paulo Dybala, two of the league’s top five scorers. Dybala has been suffering from a hamstring injury and is only likely to make the bench, but while he is a key part of the side when fit, coach Massimiliano Allegri has other solid attacking options, such as Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa, to call upon in his absence.
Juventus have dominated modern Serie A, but since Allegri took charge in 2014, they have also displayed the necessary smarts to perform well in European competition. They have been losing Champions League finalists in two of the last three seasons, eliminating teams such as Barcelona and Real Madrid along the way. Although they fell short at the final hurdle on both occasions, their pedigree is clear.
It was a lack of Champions League experience that contributed to Tottenham Hotspur’s poor campaign last season. They were eliminated in the group stage on that occasion but have come back much stronger this time around. Victories at home to Real Madrid and home and away to Borussia Dortmund saw them qualify for the knockout phase as group winners.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side have shown that they are capable of mixing up their approach and playing just as effectively on the counter-attack as they do when taking the initiative. The rapid and incisive interchanges between Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Harry Kane were key to their impressive triumph at home to Madrid, while Heung Min-Son also chipped in throughout the group stage.
Given how well they played in topping their group, Spurs were a bit unfortunate to draw a team as strong as Juventus in the last 16, but their recent performances against powerful domestic opponents suggest they should be able to give the Italians a good game. A win over Manchester United and draw away to Liverpool were followed by a comprehensive 1-0 victory at home to Arsenal in Saturday’s North London derby.
Spurs do not, however, have a particularly strong historic record against Italian opposition in European competition. They have won just once in eight matches away to Serie A sides, although it must be noted that they have been more competitive in recent encounters and that their one victory came the last time they faced an Italian team in the Champions League, in a 1-0 win away to Milan in 2011.
Juventus are unbeaten in their last six matches against Premier League opposition (since a surprise 1-4 defeat to Fulham in 2010) and have won 13 of their 21 home matches against English teams throughout their history. They have the necessary experience and canniness to manage the flow of Tuesday’s match and seek a marginal advantage ahead of the second leg.
In what is sure to be a tight and tactical encounter, Juventus should therefore be fancied to take a narrow victory.
Our Preview’s Juventus vs. Spurs Hotspur Betting Tips Verdict
This are our preview’s pick of the bets available with the best UK bookies:
- Back Juventus to win @ 19/20 with William Hill or Coral.
- Bet under 2.5 goals @ 13/19 with Unibet.
- Check latest Champions League outright winner and top goalscorer odds.