Juventus arrive in France as favorites. Maybe not to win the whole damn thing when it comes to the Champions League because of how they’ve played over the last few months, but certainly to win this round of 16 tie against Lyon and advance right on into the quarterfinals with some room to spare.
“In Italy, we have the obligation and responsibility to win. In Europe, we are among the 10 teams with this objective,” Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri said at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference.
There is an obligation because Juventus are usually the ones flying the Serie A flag in the Champions League in recent years.
And with the draw that Juve’s been handed, there’s also the expectation that this round of 16 tie isn’t going to be the last Champions League football the Bianconeri play this season.
Tonight’s first leg against Lyon in France is being looked at as the start, not the potential end, to a Champions League run. It doesn’t really matter that there’s a first-year manager without a whole lot of Champions League experience under his belt. Juventus has set the expectation — no matter how many times they call it a dream — that the Champions League is going to be a serious objective as long as a certain ponytailed No. 7 is around.
So maybe tonight Juventus looks like a Champions League contender rather than the team they have been for a good portion of the 2019-20 season, one that has done just enough to get results a lot of the time while not exactly looking like a Sarri side. Or maybe that slow build to Sarrismo still looks like it’s months away from happening for Juventus, which begins this big three-game stretch over three different competitions against a Lyon side that is far from full strength yet can probably still give Juventus some issues.
We’ll see what Juve shows up tonight.
It will obviously go a long way to determining how we feel about the second leg a couple of weeks from now in Turin.
Either way, it’s Juventus and the Champions League — something where you don’t always know what the hell is going to happen and where having the antacids near by is always recommended.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020
Where: Groupama Stadium, Lyon, France
Official kickoff time: 9 p.m. local time in France and across Europe; 8 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 3 p.m. Eastern Time; High noon Pacific Time
Juventus starting XI (4-3-3): Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, de Ligt, Alex Sandro; Bentancur, Pjanic, Rabiot; Cuadrado, Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo
Juventus bench: Buffon, De Sciglio, Ramsey, Matuidi, Higuain, Rugani, Bernardeschi
Lyon starting XI (3-5-2): Lopes; Denayer, Marcelo, Marçal; Dubois, Bruno Gomez Soares, Tousart, Aouar, Cornet; Dembele, Toko-Ekambi
Lyon bench: Tatarusanu, Andersen, Terrier, Traore, Mendes, Tete, Caqueret
HOW TO WATCH
Television: Galavisión (United States); BT Sport 3 (United Kingdom); Sky Sport Uno (Italy)
Online/mobile: B/R Live, Univision NOW (United States); DAZN (Canada); BT Sport Live (United Kingdom); Sky GO Italia (Italy)
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