It’s been 64 days since Juventus found out who their opponent was going to be in the Champions League Round of 16. For those two-plus months, we’ve seen Juventus rattle off win after win, clean sheet after clean sheet and do so in relatively simple if not pretty much routine fashion. There haven’t been a lot of world-class performances thrown in there, with certainly more 1-0 or 2-0 wins than massive beatdowns like we saw against Sassuolo earlier this month.
But now, the Feb. 13 fixture against Tottenham is here.
Sixty-four days after the Dec. 11 Round of 16 draw, Spurs have arrived in Turin.
The Champions League is back at Allianz Stadium tonight. Hopefully it’s not the last time we say that this season. That’s just something we have to consider at this stage in the game where you could very well be down to your final 180 minutes of European competition even before you kick things off in the current stage of the tournament.
Tonight’s first leg isn’t necessarily do-or-die. But it sure is close.
Can Juventus continue their recent success going against one of their most formidable opponents since the start of December?
Can Gonzalo Higuain win the battle of star strikers against Harry Kane?
Who will win the midfield battle between the two teams?
Could Max Allegri throw us a little curveball when it comes to his starting lineup and give Rodrigo Bentancur a rare start over somebody like Claudio Marchisio like so many in the Italian media seem to think will happen?
There are so many things to talk about entering this game that we could keep going on and on and on. Alas, there’s a game to be played. A very important game to be played.
No matter what, though, at the very least we’ll get to see Fernando Llorente’s smiling face once again. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen Nando’s smiling face.
| @OfficialAllegri: "We need to play a great game technically tomorrow. To take on @SpursOfficial on a physical level may not be the best way to beat them. We need to exploit their weak points as much as possible."#JuveTOT #UCL— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) February 12, 2018
Okay, so Allegri and Juventus know they need to play a great game to have success against Tottenham. There’s only one thing left to do — see if they can achieve that greatness they are so obviously seeking.
Location: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy
Kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy; 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:45 p.m. on the East Coast; 11:45 a.m. on the West Coast
Juventus starting XI (4-2-3-1): Buffon; De Sciglio, Benatia, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic; Bernardeschi, Douglas Costa, Mandzukic; Higuain
Juventus bench: Szczesny, Marchisio, Asamoah, Rugani, Sturaro, Bentancur, Muratore
Tottenham starting XI (4-3-3): Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Eriksen, Dembele, Dier; Lamela, Kane, Alli
Tottenham bench: Gazzaniga, Trippier, Rose, Son, Wanyama, Sissoko, Lucas
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