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Monday December 11 2017
Juve in the balance with Spurs

Their Champions League experience just about make Juventus favourites to beat Tottenham Hotspur, writes Richard Thomas.

All things considered, a Champions League Round of 16 meeting with Tottenham Hotspur represents a satisfactory outcome for Juventus at Monday’s draw in Nyon.

Though the ideal scenario on paper would undoubtedly have seen the Old Lady paired with Turkish champions Besiktas, Max Allegri and co will be relieved to have avoided paying the price for finishing second in Group D by being drawn against tournament favourites Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City.

As would have been the case with either of Juve’s other possible opponents prior to the draw - Jose Mourinho’s functional Manchester United and Jurgen Klopp’s wildly unpredictable Liverpool – a two-legged tie against Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs is certainly winnable, but is likely to be fraught with danger along the way. Despite their relative lack of pedigree at this stage of European competition, the North Londoners cannot be underestimated.

A recent Premier League slump in form has seen Tottenham drop to sixth in the table domestically, but their Champions League group stage exploits show they are capable of competing with and beating anyone on their day.

Two victories against Round of 16 regulars Borussia Dortmund were one thing, but it was their performance in a famous 3-1 win over defending champions Real Madrid at Wembley last month that marked Spurs out as genuine contenders to go deep in the tournament.

Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen shared the goals on that night and could also pose a major threat to Juve come February, while stopping Harry Kane - scorer of six group stage goals and 18 in all competitions this season - will of course be key to Allegri’s hopes of progression.

A midfield engine room containing Erik Dier, Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama, who has missed a large portion of the season so far through injury, means the Old Lady are likely to have to do a lot of running if they are to match their dangerous opponents.

Nevertheless, Spurs are far from infallible. Despite his stellar performance against Madrid, Alli has struggled to hit the heights of last season in the opening few months of this campaign. There has been an over-reliance on Kane for goals at times, while as a team, Pochettino’s men often struggle to break down or even create clear-cut chances against sides who sit back in a low defensive block – as shown by home draws against Burnley, Swansea and West Brom and nervy 1-0 wins over Bournemouth and Crystal Palace.

Should Allegri decide to deploy similar tactics, he may well be able to stifle Spurs’ attacking threat, given that far inferior sides have already succeeded in doing so.

There is also a growing doubt regarding Spurs’ ability to get the job done when it really matters. Pochettino has done a fine job over his three-and-a-half years in charge in North London, but his side have squandered points at crucial times in the last two Premier League title races and were agonisingly beaten by Chelsea in last season’s FA Cup semi-final.

They have also lost three of their four matches this season against other teams from the League’s so called ‘Big Six.’ The tie against Juve will present another test of Tottenham’s aspirations to take that next step on the road to joining the elite.

Allegri and the Old Lady have had their own issues this season, but as things stand currently they will probably start February’s tie as very slight favourites to progress to the quarter-finals.

The two sides faced off at Wembley in a pre-season friendly over the summer, with Tottenham vastly more advanced in their fitness preparations and running out comfortable 2-0 winners. However, the stakes will be far higher in what is perhaps surprisingly the first ever European meeting between the teams.

Spurs’ exciting and dangerous young side will have the advantage of playing at home in the second leg, but Juve’s 50-year-old Coach has overseen runs to the Champions League Final in two of his three full seasons in charge in Turin.

He will be counting on his – and his core of players’ – superior European experience and big-game mentality to take the Old Lady a step closer to finally winning the trophy for a third time.

Have your say...
juve has a weaker defense without bonucci and bonucci is weaker without Barzagli and Chiellini. DeSciglio is no where near as good as dani alves. sorry but this is reality.
on the 18th December, 2017 at 8:20pm
even if juve win... they aren't going to the final this year
on the 18th December, 2017 at 8:11pm
without bonucci and dani alves...i think this is a weaker juve side. they are conceding more this year than last
on the 18th December, 2017 at 8:09pm
@ House p diciglio might be better than alves but, everyone is better than flopnucci hahahahahhaahha
on the 16th December, 2017 at 4:15pm
Also I don't see Juve being that much weaker this year. If at all once Allegri finds the right balance n he usually does! It's easy 2 say Alves n Bonucci leaving means Juve dropped in quality overall but I'd argue De Sciglio is a better defender than Alves. He was very strong defensively at Euro 2016. If Rugani in D, Marchisio n Pjanic in M n D.Costa/Pjaca n Berna can come good then who's 2 say the TEAM can't improve on last year. I think JUVE would have benefited from a quick CF like Kean tho?
on the 16th December, 2017 at 5:41am
I wouldn't necessarily put Juve as favorites in this tie after both clubs' CL group stage performance but facing a side like Spurs may actually benefit Juve tactically. Juve's best chance may be to sit deep n then counter effectively using their fast wingers. Then if they do advance Allegri usually finds his best formation(4 the players at his disposal)come the new year n then they seem 2 show greater consistency too. Come on Juve n Show Spurs that Calcio is alive n well!
on the 16th December, 2017 at 3:45am
@ Juventini86 - Lay off Marione.
on the 14th December, 2017 at 9:15pm
@Juveman
Given recent results, the clean sheets can't be understated. However, it's also true that goals are lacking, scoring none against Barca+Inter at home.

Whether it's a struggling Dybala due to outer factors or perhaps a no longer useful Mandzukic (given the alternatives anyway), Juve will need attacking prowess again while there's still time to pile pressure on rivals.
on the 14th December, 2017 at 6:06pm
If by February we are set on a starting 11 and formation I have no worries whatsoever. We managed 5 consecutive clean sheets in our current form and constant tinkering against Napoli, barca, inter and sporting being 4 of the 5 teams we faced.
on the 14th December, 2017 at 4:06pm
@Anon juve might be weaker without alves but not leo b. Is milan weaker with leo b . Yes hahahahahahahahh
on the 14th December, 2017 at 2:27am
@Juvetini I never said Juventus are not a good side and did not say Spurs will beat them. I was just responding to statements that I found unnecessary. RM might have finished 2nd to Dortmund but they won it by beating Bayern, Atletico and Juventus. Spurs went into that group with everyone including me thinking they will come 3rd but they won it and for that they deserve respect. If Allegri is cautious then Juve are in trouble imo but if Sissoko plays there should be no problems for Juve.
on the 14th December, 2017 at 12:58am
Tottenham have the players to hurt anybody but I believe Juventus' experience and Allegri's proven ability to find the tactical blueprint to beat the best European teams will see the Bianconeri through. Obviously, a lot of things can happen between now and February and it would be foolish to underestimate a team that includes the likes of Harry Kane & Christian Eriksen, but I think our experience of big two-legged European ties may well be the difference in what could be a very close encounter.
on the 14th December, 2017 at 12:45am
Although Pjanic and Higuain are excellent players in their own right I believe we are now a weaker team with them in the starting XI. Pjanic's technical prowess is undoubted, but how do you get the absolute best out of him because he has been deployed in several positions and hasn't excelled consistency in any of them. Higuain scores you 30 goals a season, but I don't think he complements the team like Tevez and Morata did or when Mandzukic and Dybala played in a partnership two seasons ago.
on the 14th December, 2017 at 12:36am
@Dennis
You know they finished 2nd to Dortmund last year in group as well, right?

As for Juventus themselves in group vs knockout, it's clear that the team hits form in the latter consistently under Allegri. If Real's performance is meant to be excused, so should Juve's. If not, you'll have to excuse me for not considering a team that hasn't won its own local league in ages, let alone having minimal European experience, to be a serious threat. This tie shouldn't be close at all.
on the 13th December, 2017 at 9:35pm
@Rez I have seen RM this season and all seasons prior to this for the last 10 years. They have been poor in the league by their own standards but not in the cl. Barcelona have been winning but have not been brilliant either still beat Juve 3-0 though. Historically RM have always turned up in champions league at least ever since Mourinho became manager irrespective of league form. Spurs did very well to beat them it’s churlish to say otherwise
on the 13th December, 2017 at 7:35pm
Juventus 2 - 0 Totenham
Totenham 0 - 0 Juventus
on the 13th December, 2017 at 5:16pm
Sadly, Juve are not as good as they were last year. Bonucci and Alves leaving has made the defence weaker. Sandro, Dybala and Khedira are putting in below par performances. Pjanic - the only creative player in MF - is not really making the difference in big games. Higuain blows hot and cold. Rugani is still a bit raw. Howedes gets injured at the drop of a hat and never really seen what Pjaca can do. I'd say if they played right now, it will be 50/50.
on the 13th December, 2017 at 10:31am
@Dennis: Spurs are good but seems like you haven't watched Real Madrid this season. It's easy for you to say Juve is not as good as last year (which I agree) but neither is Real... "Serious Football" this season does not go in the same sentence with Real Madrid.
on the 13th December, 2017 at 10:27am
Ammm Tottenham is lame. The end
on the 13th December, 2017 at 12:27am
so that you guys know Kane is the only striker in the world who has scored over 50 goals in calendar year.and he does not take 5 or 6 chances like higuain to score one.believe me this Juve midfield does not have Physicality to match the likes of Dier wanyama and dembele i am not saying that Juve got no chance but Pochetino in charge of a good team they can beat any team on given day.
on the 12th December, 2017 at 4:06pm
@swish
You say overrated, and in previous seasons I'd have agreed, but 4 out of 5 English clubs topped their respective groups. Chelsea even were level on points with Roma.

Their campaign so far is proving worthy of Europe's elite, so I'd hold off criticism till later. IMO it's overrated only if 2 of 5 survived till next round. I have faith in us to knock out one, but we'll see what happens later.
on the 12th December, 2017 at 2:55pm
@Swish that statement might have made sense last season not this 1. Spurs took 4 points off Real Madrid or is RM not "serious football". The "overrated EPL" produced 5 qualifiers, 4 of which won their group. @Kenzile I like your team that I think can beat Spurs. The sissy team put out against Inter would not beat Spurs and they are as sure as shyte would test the goalkeeper far more. Its not as tho Olympiakos or Sporting are on Spurs' level but Juve still struggled as they will against pace.
on the 12th December, 2017 at 2:09pm
Spurs are a good side in the overrated EPL. When them come across serious football their legs will become heavy.

The ONLY EPL sides that can match Juve is either City or Chelsea.

Juve WILL qualify over spurs. *bet on this*
on the 12th December, 2017 at 9:47am
the general consensus now is that juve cant play a 4-2-3-1 in Europe it leaves the backline too open. the best formation is a 4-3-3 or 4-3-2-1 . there is some issues also with choosing the best 11. In my opinion marchisio gives you more in midfield than khedira. I saw in the Napoli and inter games he was completely anonymous. best lineup
buffon
di siglio(weaklink)---benatia/rugani---chiellini----sandro
pjanic--marchisio---matuidi
dybala---costa
higuain
on the 12th December, 2017 at 7:16am
No point predicting till February but if things are still as they are now, then Juve will be only marginal favourites.

I can't see more than a goal in it, though.
on the 12th December, 2017 at 12:34am
LOL This AS Roma fans behavior isn't far away from their cousins Napoli. When things go well, they will look for trouble with Juventus fans and have serious Alzheimer's disease.

AS Roma that we know are bunch of LOSERS in Champions League and it's a FACT.
on the 12th December, 2017 at 12:09am
Not an easy tie but one we need to be controlling from the start
on the 11th December, 2017 at 9:27pm
right you are juvenitini86.....
on the 11th December, 2017 at 8:31pm
Based on current form, we'd blow Spurs apart. It's not even a contest. They have done well against a weakened Real Madrid side (both squad and form show this), but then stumbled for more than a few matches after their famous victory.

It's not an easy draw, but to overestimate a weaker team just because of hype is a trap we've fell into countless times. The difference in experience mattered before, moreover this Juventus gets results.

No excuses, we should have this.
on the 11th December, 2017 at 8:02pm
Roma fan- So is Shaktar.
on the 11th December, 2017 at 7:55pm

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