Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
Juventus V Real Madrid
Tuesday 5th May. 7:45PM. ITV 1
Just four teams remain in the hunt for this year’s Champions League trophy and a tantalising round of semi-final action gets underway on Tuesday night as the defending champions head to Italy for an immensely difficult clash in Turin.
Both sides will fancy their chances of progressing to the final and will fully understand the importance of this first-leg. If Juventus can take a lead then it will be hard for the Spaniards to break them down in the second-leg; however, if Real Madrid do get their noses in front then Bianconeri can essentially kiss their chances goodbye.
Prepare yourselves for a classic.
Can Allegri Lead Old Lady To Glory?[quote_right]In their three previous European semi-finals played against Spanish opponents, Juventus have made it through to the final on two occasions.[/quote_right]Having arrived in Turin last summer, Massimiliano Allegri had been set the task of improving Juve’s chances in Europe: a first semi-final appearance since 2003 signals great progress, but the Italian giants would love to go further by securing their place in next month’s final.
Sadly, the game comes a little too early for influential midfielder Paul Pogba. Nonetheless, the Serie A champions boast a squad blessed with an abundance of talent and experience, with the likes of Gianluigi Buggon, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Pirlo set to give the holders something to think about.
Juventus will additionally look to in-form striker Carlos Tevez, who has enjoyed a sensational season with 28 goals. If the Italians can keep things tight at the back whilst unleashing their lethal attacker in the final third then there is no reason why the hosts can’t establish a crucial first-leg advantage.
Cries of attack have emanated from the Juve camp all week and the Serie A side will look to put Real’s sometimes vulnerable defence to the test. However, it is equally important not to get caught out by the Champions League holders. Fortunately, Italians are notorious for defending heroically and they’ll be quietly confident of causing an upset.
Rampant Ronaldo To Fire Blancos Through[quote_right]Cristiano Ronaldo alone has attempted 28 shots on target in this campaign (more than any other player) – Juve as a whole have 49.[/quote_right]Just when Cristiano Ronaldo starts to come under fire, he hits a record-breaking hat-trick to once again cement his place at the top of world football. Manager Carlo Ancelotti will be thrilled to have his star man back firing on all cylinders in time for this critical trip to Italy as the Blancos bid to become the first club ever to retain the Champions League.
Real boast a rich history with the European Cup, lifting their 10th overall title against fierce rivals Atletico Madrid in last year’s final. Now, Ancelotti’s men have one eye on another final appearance, which could see them take on even fiercer rivals Barcelona in what would be a history making el Clasico showdown final.
Before that, though, the Blancos must overcome this very capable Italian outfit. Fortunately, Ancelotti knows exactly what is required to beat the Serie A giants and his experiences of managing in his homeland could give the visitors an edge – especially over two legs.
The holders are equipped with everything needed to succeed in Europe and will be firm favourites to progress over 180 minutes. However, this is an immensely tricky first-leg contest and could quickly see the balance swing.
Whatever happens, it should be an absorbing affair.
Juventus V Real Madrid Betting Tips
Whilst Real Madrid are clear favourites to progress over two legs, the bookmakers have had real trouble predicting the outcome of this first clash in Italy. The Blancos are slightly favoured at 6/4 with Bet365, but odds of 15/8 Juventus and 21/10 draw suggests this could be a tight battle.
From a betting perspective, it’s always difficult to turn down a Ronaldo goal at odds of over Evens and we’re backing last year’s top scorer to edge closer towards retaining that personal crown, especially after the weekend hat-trick at Sevilla.
The mercurial Ronaldo is still the main man and Juventus will need to keep tabs on him throughout. Whilst the Bianconeri defence is more than capable of containing the Portugal skipper for long periods, we think he will enjoy a few opportunities. Even when chances are limited, we have to fancy a CR7 goal.
Most fans are expecting a tight and tentative affair but there is a need for both teams to attack and that, combined with the head-to-head meetings of 2013, lead us to believe this could actually surprise a few by being a game of goals.
One goal would kick this into life as the trailing team would need to score. Juventus know they can punish Real’s sometimes shaky backline, whilst the Blancos will have learned from the 0-0 at Atletico in the last round. As neutrals, we’d love to see an exciting contest and that’s exactly where we’re putting our money.