The Champions League is back and the last 16 has thrown up some absolutely beautiful ties to see who can progress into the quarter finals.
On Wednesday we’ll see Portuguese champions FC Porto take on Italian champions Juventus, with the main story of both their campaigns so far being domestic under-performance.
Porto currently sit in second place in the Primera Liga, ten points behind the leaders Sporting CP. After winning two of the last three titles, ‘Dragoes’ have struggled to get up and running and their performances have been largely disappointing for fans.
Juventus on the other hand were on a collision course for their tenth successive Serie A title, but a poor season so far under new manager Andrea Pirlo sees them currently in fourth place in the table eight points behind league leaders Inter Milan.
Star man Cristiano Ronaldo returns to his homeland in good form, having scored three goals in his last four games and as a former Sporting man he will want to make an impact at a former rivals home ground. It’s easy to assume he will make said impact too, considering this is his tournament above any other.
Porto have their own star man from the Portugal national team that spent a large chunk of his career at Real Madrid, with veteran defender Pepe plying his trade back in blue and white stripes these days.
The two will go head to head directly with Ronaldo normally played through the middle as a central striker, and it’s likely the 36-year-old attacker will get the upper hand simply because his team is much better.
Juventus will control the tempo of the game and the possession in the midfield, while defensively they should still be good enough to keep a struggling Porto side relatively quiet.
If Pirlo opts for a 4-4-2 formation, it will likely be a closer game with Porto opting for the same formation. If the young coach is smart, he’ll go with the 3-5-2 formation that the club have used for so many years before and. With that, they’ll be able to outnumber Porto all over the pitch and still maintain a strong attacking threat too as well as having the better individuals in the side.
All in all, despite Juventus’ troubles this season they should still have more than enough about them to dispatch of Porto in relatively comfortable fashion. Expect big performances from Ronaldo, Alvaro Morata and Mattijs De Ligt as the Old Lady move into the last eight.
FC Porto 1-2 Juventus
Juventus 3-0 FC Porto
(Juventus progress 5-1 on aggregate)