Lyon vs Juventus
It is something they have strived to win for decades.
Not since the mid-90s, 1996 to be precise, has the ‘old lady’ of Turin been able to call themselves Champions of Europe: the Champions League they so covet.
Recent domestic dominance does not detract from what a very good side they are, of course, but nor does it hide the fact Juventus have fallen short when it comes to glory on the European stage for fast approaching a quarter of a century.
That was the main reason why Cristiano Ronaldo was purchased 19 months ago for a big-money fee, even for a player well into his 30s, and he has been brilliant for them, as he was for Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Yet should he bring this holy grail back to the football-mad Bianconeri, should he sign off as a winner on the European stage once more, it would all but cap the argument for those who say he is the greatest player in the world.
Not only that but he would become only the second player to win the Champions League at three different clubs after Clarence Seedorf.
Ronaldo certainly marked his 1,000th senior appearance at the weekend in the manner to which we have become accustomed and he will lead the line again in France against a Lyon side which overcame the Sbobet Champions League betting odds in its final group game to reach the last 16.
While Juve manager Maurizio Sarri has yet to fully convince since taking over from Max Allegri last summer, Juventus remain top of Serie A, are in the Coppa Italia semi-finals and are favourites against a Lyon team which, while a good side, lack the sparkle perhaps it once had and remain a club which traditionally has had to sell its best players.
With Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele in the attack, the hosts will always carry a threat, yet history suggests this may be where the Olympique Lyonnais run ends for another year.
This is the 11th time they have reached the last 16 and, having won their first three ties, they have lost six of the last seven, their most recent win at this stage coming against Madrid a decade ago.
Lyon have also only won one of their last eight home European matches (drawn six, lost one), while Juventus are unbeaten in eight matches against French sides, home and away, since a 2-0 loss at Bordeaux in the 2009/10 group stage.
That, naturally, will count for little when the first leg kicks off in the OL Stadium on Wednesday night.
But it would be a big surprise if Lyon, seventh in Lique 1, can topple the Italian giants.
This is the fifth clash between the sides, all in the past six years.
Juve won three of the first four fixtures, including a pair of 1-0 victories in France.
They first met in the 2014 Europa League quarter-finals when Leonardo Bonucci scored the only goal of the first leg at Lyon’s former home, the Stade de Gerland, five minutes from time.
Andrea Pirlo increased Juve’s aggregate advantage four minutes into the Turin return and, although Jimmy Briand’s 18th-minute strike gave OL hope, a Samuel Umtiti own goal midway through the second half sealed Juventus’s place in the semi-finals.
In the 2016/17 Champions League group stage, Juventus again secured a narrow victory in France, Juan Cuadrado netting the only goal with 14 minutes left at the OL Stadium on Matchday 3.
The Bianconeri looked set for another narrow victory at the Juventus Stadium thanks to Gonzalo Higuaín’s 13th-minute penalty, but Corentin Tolisso earned Lyon a point with five minutes left.
Juve went on to finish first in Group H and reach the tournament final, while third-placed Lyon moved into the Europa League, where they reached the semi-finals.
|Lyon vs Juventus||Over 2.75 Goals @ 2.42|
|February 27, 04:00 (GMT+8)|
I do think this last 16 tie has the potential to produce plenty of Champions League highlights and a fair few goals too.
Juventus are clear favourites, backed with 1X2 odds @ 1.92 and Asian Handicap odds –0.75 @ 2.21. Lyon, in comparison, are 1X2 @ 3.90 and Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 2.29. The draw is on offer @ 3.40.
A repeat of their most recent meeting – correct score 1-1 – will payout @ 6.20, while total goals 2-3 and total goals 4-6 are available @ 1.83 and 3.65 respectively.
My three-star tip, though, is for over 2.75 goals @ 2.42.
I think Juventus will win over the two legs but they won’t necessarily have it all their own way in France.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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