Up in the north of Italy, two of football’s enduring giants will seek to flourish their respective brands of the beautiful game, as Juventus host Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League quart-finals, at the Juventus Stadium in Turin, on 4th April.
The hosts head into this game with revenge on their minds. It was barely 12 months ago that Real Madrid put them to the sword in the 2017 Champions League final in Wales. The wounds will be fresh and the Bianconneri will look to turn the tables on their celebrated opponents.
Gigi Buffon will start under the posts - a hallowed, inspiring figure for the rest of the team, as Massimiliano Allegri will look to exploit Madrid’s weaknesses for an advantage to take back to the Spanish capital in the reverse fixture. Giorgio Chiellini, Mehdi Benatia and Antonio Barzagli are expected to start in a 3 man central defense.
In what is expected to be a 3-5-2, Miralem Pjanic, Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira are expected to form the spine of the team, as they did so in a 3-1 thrashing of AC Milan just this weekend, while Douglas Costa is also expected to given playing time.
Up front, Paulo Dybala is rediscovering his form, while Gonzalo Higuain, the club’s leading goal scorer in the European competition is expected to line-up beside the Argentinian. Expect the Italian manager to tinker with the formation to allow Costa room up front alongside the fantastic twosome and make it a 3-4-3.
Real Madrid are confident heading into this tie after recording five wins with a sum total of 16 goals scored. The battery of goals scored are accounted for by Cristiano Ronaldo, who is in a rich vein of form after a lacklustre start to the season. He is expected to lead the charge for Zinedine Zidane’s Los Blancos, assisted by Karim Benema and Gareth Bale.
The latter should be included into the team on the basis of an excellent showing at Las Palmas. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are expected to start in central midfield, as these two magicians have recorded the best passing percentages in the competition this season, while the able Casemiro runs himself into the ground to prevent Juventus’ midfield from stepping into the upper zone.
Defense is likely to be composed of Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Rapahel Varane and Dani Carvajal, while the number one jersey is to be hoisted onto the shoulders of Jesus Navas.
It seems a blossoming rivalry on paper, and the fans will hope that April’s weather blooms a rich football display by their respective teams as well.