Real Madrid vs Juventus Preview

UEFA Champions League | Wednesday 23 October | Santiago Bernabeu | 20:45





UEFA Champions League
                                             
Two veritable juggernauts of European football go head-to-head in a fixture that will have massive
implications for the entire fabric of the group.

Neither side has been at their metronomic best in their domestic leagues, but Real Madrid’s utter dominance of the group thus far will mean a victory here may render the return leg in Turin somewhat redundant.

Madrid are flying, having scored ten goals in two games, while Juventus’ surreal European malaise means that Galatasaray can harbour real hopes of advancing in the second qualification spot, despite having been routinely dismantled 6-1 at home by the mighty Galacticos.

Antonio Conte knows then that he may need something from this precarious journey, while Madrid know that a victory will offer them a huge buffer with relatively basic fixtures following the return leg in Turin.


To Win (90mins)
Real Madrid 11/20
Draw 31/10
Juventus 47/10


REAL MADRID

This week could very well be a massive turning point for Carlo Ancelotti’s array of underperforming talent.

Following last gasp winners against both Elche and Levante, Madrid managed to put away Malaga with another unconvincing performance.

However, both Barcelona and Atletico vitally dropped points, allowing Real to close the gap ahead of a mouth-watering Clasico that has the potential to punctuate a seismic shift in the fortunes of the world’s richest football club.

Additionally, operation Gareth Bale showed positive signs on the weekend; his fifteen minute salvos saw him not only attain valuable playing time, but also a highly questionable penalty kick.

The Bernabeu faithful will be hoping that his ridiculous price tag carries more with it than constant fitness concerns and a defiance of the laws of gravity.

Spanish pin-up idol Iker Casillas will return to the starting lineup after Carlo Ancelotti stated that the Spain number 1 will feature in all Champions League matches. This after Diego Lopez has been Madrid's first choice between the sticks in the league.

I feel Ancelotti will sense blood in the water here and the obvious potential to close the group and focus on the vagaries of La Liga.

He will likely opt for a conventional back four, with Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos and Marcelo likely starters.

Khedira will sheriff the back four, while I feel Luka Modric may be entrusted with a slightly more defence-minded role.

He showed last year against Manchester United that he possesses an unexpected tenacity that will allow Ancelotti to play a very aggressive formation. Isco will play just behind the striker, while Ronaldo drifts in his nonchalant manner, likely switching wings continuously with Angel Di Maria.

If Karim Benzema is still unfit, young Morata will play up front and offer a focal point to the attack other than that of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Knowing the way that the Italians like to absorb pressure, Ancelotti will want his team to continually press Juventus when they lose possession and prevent them from launching any serious counterattacks.

Modric may have to be the man to go and pick up the elusive Andrea Pirlo, who manages to find awkward pockets of space that Khedira would be unwise to persistently venture into, especially with the progressive running of Paul Pogba to consider.

They will look to bring on Gareth Bale with probably half an hour to go in order to continue his rehabilitation, with the upcoming Clasico in mind.


JUVENTUS


Juventus must have thought at 2-0 in the 65th minute at Fiorentina, that they had a lovely stroll around the
park in preparation for this critical game.

But then the unthinkable happened; the usually frugal defence of Juventus, and indeed Italy, completely capitulated in the face of the potent counterattack of Fiorentina.

Make no bones about it; this game is far more important to Juventus than Madrid.

The 2-2 home draw with Galatasaray has really deflated the Juventus cause and likely means that they will have to find something in these two fixtures against the Spanish giants.

But as the weekend proved, Juventus are hardly the type of outfit designed to chase a game.

Juventus will be anxiously sweating on the fitness of influential full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner.

He gives the team an injection of pragmatic attack which acts as a good counterpoint to the more clandestine qualities offered by Andrea Pirlo.

Vidal will likely start the game after being left out of the first team for the weekend due to missing two training sessions as he returned late from international duty.

With Vucinic still injured, Antonio Conte will have to make a vital decision up front. Llorente and Tevez actually seemed to have a fairly good chemistry before Babel collapsed in Florence, but I fear the Spaniard may make way for Vidal in a slightly more conservative formation.

Giovinco would be another option, but I struggle to see them dropping Tevez.

The defensive trio of Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini will have some major soul searching to do and will have their hands full with the speed of Di Maria and Ronaldo.

That is where the game is going to be won and lost. If Lichtsteiner and Padoin get caught in possession up the field, how well will their three experienced centre-halves deal with the electric counter-attack of Ronaldo and Di Maria, not to mention Gareth Bale?

The role of Pirlo can’t be overstated, but will the team be able to keep possession for long enough for his passing to have an impact?

I feel his incisive passing may be reduced to desperate hacking into open territory under the full weight of an emboldened Real Madrid attack.

Betting Verdict: REAL MADRID 11/20

Madrid should win the match quite comfortably. The contrast of styles will create a wide open encounter that will stretch the Juventus defensive lines consistently. Ronaldo and Co. should wreak havoc, but Juventus may pick up a few goals through their own counter-attacks. We predict a comprehensive Madrid win that perhaps isn’t reflected on the scoreboard.

Bet on this match now at Hollywoodbets.net! Haven’t got an account? Open one here now!