The UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg ties come to their conclusion tonight when European giants FC Porto and Juventus do battle at the Estádio do Dragão.
Porto coach Nuno Espírito Santo has no injury concerns ahead of tonight’s encounter and he will be relying on continuity in key positions from his talented team. Porto are on a 6-match winning streak and have kept clean sheets in their last 3 Champions League matches. Defensive stalwart Leonardo Bonucci misses out for visitors Juventus after a disagreement with manager Massimiliano Allegri. Either youngster Daniele Rugani or Moroccan journeyman Medhi Benatia will deputise for the experienced Italian.
With both sides in a rich vein of form, Europe’s elite competition should produce a high quality contest between two of its former winners.
No injury concerns
Likely starting XI (4-1-3-2): Casillas; Maxi Pereira, Felipe, Marcano, Alex Telles; Danilo; Herrera, Torres, Brahimi; Silva, Soares
Likely starting XI (4-2-3-1): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Rugani, Chiellini, Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic; Cuadrado, Dybala, Mandzukic; Higuaín
Combative Brazilian striker Francisco Soares only signed for Porto a month ago, but has already made a positive impact scoring 4 goals in 3 appearances for the club. Against a slightly unaccustomed Juventus back 4 minus the services of Leonardo Bonucci, his physical style could make life very uncomfortable for Allegri’s men. Uruguayan right back Maxi Pereira will have his hands full against a fluid Juventus attack that will often be supplemented by adventurous left back Alex Sandro.
With the aforementioned Bonucci dropped, Giorgio Chiellini will have to take on the senior role in an intimidating away atmosphere. Up front, Allegri will again be expecting big things in a big match from 23-year-old sensation Paulo Dybala. The left-footed Argentine is in superb form and his ability to find space and pick a pass is always good news for strike partner and compatriot Gonzalo Higuaín.
Key Match Stats
- Porto have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 Champions League matches.
- Porto are unbeaten in their last 7 home encounters with Italian teams.
- Porto have never beaten Juventus in three previous attempts.
- Juventus are undefeated in their last 8 Champions League matches.
- Juventus have won 7 matches in a row in all competitions.
- Juventus have lost 4 of their last 11 encounters with Portuguese sides, but those defeats all came against Benfica.
- Juventus won all 3 away fixtures in the group stages.
- The last Italian side to win away at Porto in the Champions League was AC Milan in March 1993.
PicksClickaBet odds on this fixtures offer value for all possible outcomes. The home win is long enough to be worth a punt at 3.21 while slight favourites Juventus are justifiably priced at 2.46 to get an away win. The draw at 3.01 is tempting because of the cagey nature of many first legs in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages.