Teams with a rich history in European football meet again in the group stage of this year’s Champions League when Manchester United welcome Juventus to Old Trafford on Tuesday (20:00 BST, live on BT Sport).
Between them, they have won 11 major European trophies, including three Champions Leagues for United and two for Juventus. They have locked horns 12 times, yielding a perfectly tied record of five wins apiece and two draws, with a 15-15 tie on goal difference.
Man Utd did, though, emerge victorious in their last encounters during the second group stage of the 2003 competition, and also have a famous victory in the 1999 semi-final, achieved with an away win in Turin, to their credit. The respective performances of the two squads so far this season does, however, suggest that victory will be a tough ask this time around.
Juventus have won 10 of their 11 matches in all competitions. They comfortably top the Serie A table and have established themselves as favourites with the leading bookies to head this Champions League group with two wins from two, including a hard-fought win away to Valencia. Man Utd are trailing behind the other top-four hopefuls in the Premier League, having picked up just 14 points from their nine matches to date, and have recorded a win and a draw in Europe.
Jose Mourinho’s side were able to pick up a credible point away to Chelsea on Saturday. Their hosts enjoyed more attacking territory and probably created the better chances of the match, but United recovered from going behind in the first half to take the lead with two second half goals from Anthony Martial, only to then concede an injury time equaliser.
It was nevertheless a very solid result, albeit from a match in which it was again evident that United are struggling to strike a good balance between attack and defence. Whenever one half of the equation looks good, it is at the expense of the other. Mourinho has been unable to find an adequate solution to a problem that dates back to last season.
If the Premier League title perhaps already looks out of reach, given a seven-point deficit at such an early stage, then United’s hopes of progressing in Europe probably rest on securing at least a couple of points from these back-to-back fixtures against Juventus. Valencia now have the potential confidence boost of consecutive matches against group minnows Young Boys and will expect still to be in contention when they host United on the final match day.
Juventus look the most likely group winners and will hope to go from there to enjoy another strong run in the competition. They have twice reached the final in the last four seasons and spent big money in the summer to try and take the final step and lift the trophy for the first time since 1996.
The big bet of the club’s summer dealings was the €100-million-plus signing of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid. A Champions League winner with United in 2008, who added a further four winners’ medals to his collection during his time in Madrid, he has stepped straight into a new set up and immediately produced the same kind of outstanding shot volume he provided at his former employers.
Ronaldo has scored five times to date, including in his side’s 1-1 draw at home to Genoa on Saturday. He will return to the European fold on Tuesday after missing the 3-0 win over Young Boys following his dismissal against Valencia. Juventus also have other potent attackers at their disposal, including Paulo Dybala, scorer of a hat-trick against Young Boys.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side are defensively sound when that is their priority but are generally well-balanced. They don’t often lose and recorded victory at home to Napoli, their closest domestic challengers, in their hardest match of the season to date at the end of September.
It was only five months ago that Juventus ended Tottenham Hotspur’s participation in last season’s Champions League with a 2-1 win at Wembley. They are very much capable of again returning home from England triumphant following victory against Manchester United on Tuesday.