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Saturday February 10 2018
Can Spurs surprise the Old Lady?

Tottenham Hotspur already stunned Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, so Juventus ought to be wary of Harry Kane and co, writes Anthony Barbagallo.

After defeating Fiorentina 2-0 in what was a complete second-half performance from Juventus, how will the Bianconeri deal with their crucial Champions League clash against Tottenham Hotspur?

Occupied in a two-way Scudetto race with Napoli, Juve will need to emulate the pragmatic approach they have been using in this Serie A campaign when they host an underrated Tottenham in the first leg of the Last 16 on Tuesday evening.

This match-up will be the first time these sides play against each other in European club competition, which makes it an intriguing affair for 888Sport Betting.

Juventus may be satisfied facing Spurs rather than battling with the big guns Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City, but that’s probably what Real Madrid thought too.

There is no denying that the English outfit was one of the Champions League’s top performers in the group stages, as the statistics don’t lie. Bagging upset wins against European Champions Real Madrid and an experienced Borussia Dortmund propelled the Premier League side to a first-place finish in Group H, amassing more points than any club in the competition’s group stage.

Massimiliano Allegri’s men must be vigilant of their opponent’s fast passing and smooth transition with the ball. Tottenham are the complete opposite to the Italian champions – playing with unpredictability and pressing high up the pitch. With veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli occupying the centre-back positions in the Juve backline, it will be essential that the defending duo use their tall stature and tenacity to deny Tottenham’s aerial threats in set-pieces.

Mauricio Pochettino is known for utilising his traditional 4-2-3-1 formation, allowing the team to be flexible and switch to the basic 4-4-2. The trio of Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min providing through balls and crosses to No.10 hitman Harry Kane has often overwhelmed opposition defenders, including Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and Marcelo.

If there is one vital thing the Bianconeri defence can do well in this fixture, it is to keep Kane at bay without giving the Premier League’s leading goal scorer any space around the 18-yard box. Juve’s Alex Sandro must limit any crosses and low passes from the left flank being delivered to the Spurs forward. This is to ensure the Englishman doesn’t get the chance to display his clinical finishing in the air or with his lethal right-footed shot - the last thing La Vecchia Signora want is to concede a fatal away goal that could change the entire complexion leading into the second leg at Wembley.

As the 2017-18 Serie A season has progressed, Juventus have rediscovered their true defending. To be honest, it has only improved under the 4-3-3 formation, demonstrating that the Turin club has moved on from the Leonardo Bonucci era. With Juve only conceding once in 16 consecutive fixtures in all competition, due to a robust defence and Wojciech Szczesny or Gigi Buffon between the posts, this has been a testament to Allegri’s pragmatic approach towards weekly games.

One of the main vulnerabilities that exist within this Tottenham side this season is defending set-pieces. The Bianconeri should get players like Mario Mandzukic – the potential replacement for Paulo Dybala - and Chiellini to expose Spurs’ flaws in corners and free-kicks.

Given Juve’s current form, they should feel full of confidence ahead of this Tottenham clash. While Blaise Matuidi is ruled out due to a thigh muscle injury, Claudio Marchisio will most likely be performing alongside Sami Khedira and Miralem Pjanic, continuing to provide crucial tackles and passes.

Allegri might also give Federico Bernardeschi – the hero from the Fiorentina match - the chance to start ahead of Douglas Costa, as the Italian youngster is finding tremendous form. With the Scudetto holders boasting a deep squad with Champions League knockout experience, they should be the slight favourites to beat Tottenham by playing their traditional style of calcio – absorbing the pressure and capitalising on their chances in attack.

A win without conceding an away goal will put Juve in a commanding position for the second leg in London next month. 

Have your say...
juve must be very careful on paper juve should be stronger but with their injuries and tot's current form i imagine they will play for a draw this week and then go all out in london thats what i think
on the 12th February, 2018 at 11:10am
Barzagli will not start, Benatia will. It's 2018.
And Mandzukic always plays, he is not "Dybala's potential replacement".

Anyway, this match is hard to predict. But one thing is for sure, Juve need to attack. And even when Juve scores, they need to keep pushing for a second.

One thing I hate about Allegri is that he always seems happy with a 1-0 lead.
on the 12th February, 2018 at 2:42am
@anon transfermarkt has dybala return from injury on feb 15 cuadrardo apr 7 matuidi on march 8 and howedes on feb 26 of course they aren't actually medical professionals just a database that logs articles so expect it to be wrong.
on the 11th February, 2018 at 9:49pm
@Anonymous11: Juve do way more than just defending. Last time I checked they had the best attack in the league (and the best defense)... The article suggests Spurs have done this and that against Real Madrid! Well guess what! Real Madrid name doesn't mean anything if they struggle against likes of Levante and Girone. What we have in Spurs, is a solid team that played the shadow of RM and one that has 52 points from 27 league games... don't overhype things...
on the 11th February, 2018 at 9:47pm
Does anybody know if Dybala is fit to play ?

Think he will have a point to prove and can change the game
on the 11th February, 2018 at 7:07pm
No they cant. Tottenham is going to get beat.
on the 11th February, 2018 at 1:49am
Need to attack, none of the odd long play rubbish that saw Bayer knock us out. And then when we had Bayer we changed and tried to coast, yup u geussed it!!! Bayer knocked us again, when we took to real and Barca we dealt either comfortably, so.... do that again!!!! FORZA juve
on the 11th February, 2018 at 12:24am
If Juve's approach is pragmatism and just absorb pressure I got news for you in case the last 15 years of calcio hasn't sunk in yet, Juve will loose. When Italian teams take it to the opposition they can win. The game has changed, many very good teams now. I remember when Allegri took it to the Gunners with Milan. They tore them up. Couldn't disagree more with the pragmatism approach. I'm assuming this writer recommends this to not concede away goals but top teams today do more then just defend.
on the 10th February, 2018 at 8:51pm
Change the title. It should be "Can Juve surprise Spurs?"

Talking about Juve vs English clubs. Cih.
on the 10th February, 2018 at 7:55pm
I hope Juve attack early and try to get a couple of goals, then lock it down with out conceding an away goal. Also seeing Khedira start every week angers me. The guy is useless. But he pops up and scores against teams that are, or were in the relegation zone at the time. He disappears against quality opponents, and doesn't really offer anything. He's our weak link in the midfield.
on the 10th February, 2018 at 7:40pm

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