Juventus vs Olympique Lyon (Agg:0-1)
Allianz Stadium, Torino
Friday, 07-08-2020 @10pm
Ref: Felix Zweyar (Germany)
Juve have a job on their hands on Friday when they host Olympique Lyonnais in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.
They are coming on the back of a 1-0 defeat in the first-leg, where Lucas Tousart’s 31st-minute strike gave the French side a massive advantage heading into this game.
The Old Lady do have an excellent record when it comes to turning things around, notably overcoming a 2-0 deficit against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last season. This time, however, they won’t really have practical home advantage as the match will be played in an empty Allianz Stadium.
They ended their Serie A campaign badly, notably securing just one win in their last four matches – a run of form that saw them win the league title by just one point.
Lyon, on the other hand, haven’t exactly had a great season either, finishing in seventh as the 2019/20 Ligue 1 campaign came to an abrupt end in late April, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. They have also stuttered in their Champions League campaign, meaning the win over Juventus in the first-leg was no less than surprising.
Maurizio Sarri is expected to make a host of changes from the weakened side that featured against AS Roma in the final matchday of the 2019/20 Serie A campaign.
Both Mattia Di Sciglio and Douglas Costa have been ruled out due to injury, Matthijs de Ligt is hoping to return to the side, at the expense of Daniele Rugani. The Dutchman is set to partner Leonardo Bonucci, at the heart of Juventus’ four-man backline.
There could be changes in the full-back slots too, with Juan Cuadrado and the now-fit Alex Sandro coming in for Danilo and Gianluca Frabotta respectively.
Further changes are expected in central midfield, with Miralem Pjanic replacing Simone Muratore in the number six role. It could well be the last Juventus game for the Bosnian international, who is set to move to FC Barcelona at the end of the season.
Pjanic will be supported by Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur, although Sarri also has other options including Blaise Matuidi and Aaron Ramsey.
Gonzalo Higuain is a favourite to spearhead the Juventus attack as Paulo Dybala is still nursing a knock. It remains to be seen whether the Argentine can return to full fitness, although Sarri did confirm that he is training with the medical staff.
Nevertheless, the wide attacking duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi are guaranteed starters, with Higuain or Dybala leading the frontline of a packed Juventus attack.
The return of Memphis Depay has served as a boon for Olympique Lyon head coach Rudi Garcia. The Dutchman performed well in the French league cup final against PSG and is poised for another start.
Garcia has often used a 3-5-2 when dealing with strong oppositions and this week should be no different. That essentially means Depay might have to spearhead the Lyon attack, alongside the club’s highest goalscorer this season, Moussa Dembele.
Most of Juventus’ creative output comes from central areas of the pitch and Garcia could counter that by opting to deploy three central midfielders in Houssem Aouar, Thiago Mendes and Bruno Guimaraes, who is set to operate in a deeper, number six role.
With Guimaraes providing the additional coverage in midfield, the onus will be on the central defensive trio of Joachim Andersen, Marcal and Jason Denayer to keep it together and help Lyon see out the slender one-goal advantage.
Wing-backs Leo Dubois and Maxwel Cornet will also play a crucial role in dealing with Juventus’ presence on the wider areas of the pitch while Anthony Lopes will be hoping to preserve yet another clean sheet in between the sticks.
Juve are unbeaten in their two home European games against Lyon, winning 2-1 in the Europa League in April 2014 and drawing 1-1 in the Champions League in November 2016. Lyon have lost four of their last five away UEFA European matches in Italy since winning 2-1 at Fiorentina in the Champions League in November 2008. Juventus have lost two of their last three home Champions League knockout games, losing to Real Madrid in April 2018 and Ajax in April 2019. In the knockout stage, Lyon are winless in their last 10 away games, failing to score in six of those matches. Their last away knockout win was in February 2006, against PSV Eindhoven. After losing the first leg of a Champions League knockout match, Juventus have progressed from five of their 11 previous ties, including the most recent occasion it occurred against Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16 last season (0-2 first leg, 3-0 second leg).
The other Champions League game on Friday
-Man City vs Real Madrid @10pm
Saturday’s Champions League fixtures
-Barcelona vs Napoli @10pm
-Bayern Munich vs Chelsea @10pm