Thanks to five wins in its six group stage games, Juventus was able to go into Monday’s Champions League Round of 16 draw in Nyon with a little bit of optimism. That was thanks to the craziness of the final day of the group stage last week, with Juve getting some help from Zenit and leapfrogging Chelsea in Group H to finish atop the group standings.
The result of finishing first?
Juventus were placed into the seeded pot at the draw.
The result of being seeded?
Nothing great, but nothing truly terrible.
Juventus will face Sporting CP in the Champions League Round of 16, it was announced at Monday’s draw. It’s probably going to go down as another case of “It could have been better, but it also could have been worse,” with the worst aspect of it all knowing just how much trouble Juventus has had over the last couple of years in the round of 16. That is more of the issue rather than the actual opponent. And I think it’s safe to say that Juve can’t afford to see a third different coach succumb to a European exit in the earliest possible stage of the Champions League knockout rounds.
Well, good thing Juventus hasn’t had any issues with clubs that play in Portugal in the Champions League Round of 16 of late, right? (Dear God, don’t actually answer that, please.)
Juve could have been draw against any one of the six of the eight second-place finishers, with Chelsea and Inter Milan out of the running for very obvious reasons as we head into the first stage of the knockout round.
Instead, as the draw played out, most of the possible opposition were taken off the board well before Juventus heard its name called. It was either going to be Sporting or Paris Saint-Germain. Once the forever teenage-looking Andrey Arshavin pulled the ball out of the bowl for Sporting’s opponent and the card was revealed, it was Juventus.
As of this writing, dates for the two round of 16 fixtures had yet to be confirmed.
UPDATE 1: After admitting somewhat admitting to their faulty error on procedure, UEFA announced that the round of 16 field will be re-drawn. The original mistake came when Manchester United’s ball was not included in teams that Atletico Madrid could have faced. Atletico Madrid was drawn against Bayern Munich moments later. The re-draw is set for 15:00 CET.
Does Juventus beat Sporting and advance to the Champions League quarterfinals?
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