In just a couple of hours, Juventus will be at the midway point of the Champions League group stage. Juve could very well be in good shape. Or, depending on how tonight’s game against Olympique Lyonnais goes, things will just as much of a jumbled mess as they are entering the third round of games.
Tonight’s trip to France is quite important. Fact is, every group stage game is important simply because your chances of advancing to the knockout rounds decrease with a couple of slip-ups. The room for error is slim. And when you’re a club like Juventus that is expected to make it well past the group stage, these are games you’re expected to do well in — and probably win — more than anything else.
That’s not me saying this just to seem like an over-confident Juventus supporter. Max Allegri, who has guided this Juventus ship since the summer of 2014, said the same kind of thing at his pre-match press conference on Monday.
Those are minimum expectations that are very realistic if Juventus continue to pick up points following their first group-stage win of the campaign last month in Croatia, then those goals will obviously be met. But as we know, it’s not exactly Juventus-like ways to coast through the group stage. Rather, it can be a grind some of the time — even more of what it was like against Sevilla to open the group stage last month.
Juventus enter tonight’s game at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais with an injury list that is getting longer by the game. Giorgio Chiellini? Back in Turin. Mario Mandzukic? Back in Turin. Marko Pjaca? Daniele Rugani? Kwadwo Asamoah? Claudio Marchisio? All back in Turin. Different circumstances for each player — especially Marchisio, considering he’s just back from a six-month absence — but that’s still a huge chunk of a Juventus team that always seems to be dealing with some kind of injuries wherever you look.
Despite all of that, this is a huge chance for Juventus to both pick up more points and further solidify its spot atop the group. Considering there’s three more group stage games to go after tonight’s scheduled events, the more points are always for the better, methinks.
Location: Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon, France
Kick-off time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy; 7:45 p.m. in England; 2:45 p.m. on the East Coast; 11:45 a.m. on the West Coast
Juventus starting XI (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Patrice Evra; Dani Alves, Sami Khedira, Mario Lemina, Miralem Pjanic, Alex Sandro; Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain
Juventus bench: Neto, Federico Mattiello, Medhi Benatia, Hernanes, Stefano Sturaro, Juan Cuadrado, Moise Kean
Lyon starting XI (3-5-2/3-5-1-1): Anthony Lopes; Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Nicolas Nkoulou, Mouctar Diakhaby; Rafael, Sergi Darder, Maxime Gonalons, Corentin Tolisso, Jeremy Morel; Alexandre Lacazette, Nabil Fekir
Lyon bench: Mathieu Gorgelin, Jordy Gaspar, Lucas Tousart, Rachid Ghezzal, Jordan Ferri, Mathieu Valbuena, Maxwel Cornet
TV: PremiumSport 2 HD, Canale 5, RSI La 2 (Italy)
Online: ESPN3, WatchESPN, Fox Soccer 2GO USA (United States); beIN SPORTS CONNECT Canada (Canada)
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