Before you know it, the Champions League group stage will be nearly over. Only three games remained entering the week. Come the end of tonight’s fixtures, only two games are left after that. It’s a a somewhat drawn out process yet still kinda flying by at the same time. (I hope that makes sense.)
The main thing you want to do as quickly as possible is wrap up a spot in the Champions League’s knockout stages and not mess around with any kind of wackiness as the final day of the group stage approaches.
For the second time in a couple of weeks, Juventus will play Lyon, with the two team squaring off at Juventus Stadium in just a matter of minutes. And the accompanying benefits of a win against Lyon are crystal clear — you win, you get into the knockout round with two games to spare. That means, with one thing already put away, Juventus can concentrate on getting the top spot in the group. Because, honestly, nobody wants to play Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 for the second straight season.
We have reached the point where we’re going to be looking out the other game in Group H’s score a little more. We’re going to be paying attention to goal differential a little more. We’re going to be looking at the group table and doing math in real time a little more than before. That’s just the nature of the second half of group stage play because there are just three chances AT MOST to change where you currently stand.
Juventus are atop the group both because of their seven points and the plus-5 goal differential they currently have. That’s good no matter how good or not so good they have played in their first three European games of the season. We hope there are a lot more Champions League games this season. Maybe it can reach double digits, and I’m sure a lot of us won’t be opposed to that because it will mean a potential spot in the Champions League semifinals at the very least.
There’s only one way that happens — and that’s getting to the knockout round. And when you throw in the fact how Juve haven’t exactly made things easy on themselves in Europe over the last few years, it sure would be a nice change of pace for once.
Yes, good. I like when Juventus finishes top of the group. Don’t disappoint us, Juventus.
Location: Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy
Kick-off time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy; 7:45 p.m. in England; 3:45 p.m. on the East Coast; 12:45 p.m. on the West Coast
Juventus starting XI (4-3-1-2): Buffon; Dani Alves, Barzagli, Bonucci, Evra; Khedira, Marchisio, Sturaro; Pjanic; Higuain, Mandzukic
Juventus bench: Neto, Benatia, Rugani, Alex Sandro, Hernanes, Cuadrado, Kean
Lyon starting XI (4-4-2): Lopes; Rafael, Diakhaby, Mammana, Morel; Ghezzal, Gonalons, Tolisso, Rybus; Fekir, Lacazette
Lyon bench: Gorgelin, Yanga-Mbiwa, Grenier, Ferri, Darder, Cornet, Tousart
TV: ESPN2 (United States); TSN1 (Canada); BT Sport Extra (United Kingdom); RSI La 2, PremiumSport HD (Italy)
Online: ESPN3, WatchESPN, Fox Soccer 2GO USA (United States); TSN GO (Canada)
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