Battle of defensive heavyweights as Atletico Madrid take on Juventus

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It's a case of two immovable objects coming face-to-face in the Champions League ...

Defensive heavyweights are set to battle it out to produce a winner as Serie A league leaders Juventus take on Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Both teams are known for their impeccable defensive structure, which is evidenced by the fact that no team has conceded fewer goals than them in their respective leagues. Juventus have conceded just 15 goals in 23 league games, whereas Atletico have conceded 17 from 24 matches.

In the group stages of the Champions League, Diego Simeone’s men have conceded six goals, four of them coming in one game against a high-flying Borussia Dortmund. Massimiliano Allegri’s side have conceded four goals and maintained the same number of clean-sheets in Europe this season.

Lucas Hernandez Atletico Madrid 2018-19

Atletico’s backline had their fair share of injuries in the latter part of 2018, with the entire first choice back-four side-lined at one point. This renders their feat all the more impressive. But Los Colchoneros have struggled in 2019 and their defence deserves a huge chunk of blame for the poor show.

In a span of three weeks, Atletico were eliminated from the Copa del Rey and suffered back-to-back league defeats against Real Betis and Real Madrid. The defence seems worn out and needs rejuvenation before the crucial tie. However, it's worth noting that goalkeeper Jan Oblak is one of the best in Europe and can potentially change the game single-handedly.

Meanwhile, it has not been all smiles for Juventus either. They conceded six goals in a span of four days earlier this month, which came from a 3-0 thrashing against Atalanta in the domestic cup and a thrilling 3-3 draw against Parma in the league.

Duvan Zapata and Gervinho exposed some of the frailties in Juventus’s defence in the past few weeks. It comes as no coincidence that the leak in the defence was produced when veterans Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini were hit by injuries.

Castillejo Chiellini Juventus Milan Supercoppa

Daniele Rugani and Martin Caceres had a troubled start to their journey as a defensive pairing and – with all due respect – are a clear downgrade from the first choice Italian centre-backs.

Bonucci and Chiellini are back in training and should be match-fit for the crucial game.

Both teams have had a rough road in 2019 but the teams do boast of two of the best defences in Europe. This match-up could provide a defensive masterclass.

Watch Atletico Madrid's UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clash against Juventus LIVE on Goal for free

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