Juventus v Lyon: French underdogs are the smart selection

After a successful selection on Lyon's French League Cup Final against PSG last weekend, James Eastham predicts the Ligue 1 outfit can make life difficult for the Serie A title winners...

Juventus vs Lyon
Fri, 20:00 BST
Live on BT Sport 2

Lyon 1-0 ahead from first leg

For Juventus Douglas Costa and Sami Khedira are out. Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala will return to the starting line-up after being rested for Juventus' final Serie A game of the season against Roma (3-1 home defeat) on August 1.

No automatic starters are definitely absent for Lyon. Central defender Marcelo is doubtful with a thigh injury. In all other positions manager Rudi Garcia is likely to rely largely on the starting line-up that faced PSG in the French League Cup final on July 31 (0-0, 6-5 defeat on penalties).

Despite trailing 1-0 from the first leg of this Last 16 tie - Lyon won thanks to a Lucas Tousart goal (the midfielder is now a Hertha Berlin player) when the sides met in France on February 26 - Juventus are 1.90 favourites to qualify (Lyon are 2.10). The odds on the Serie A side make sense when you consider Juventus' superior European experience and presence of Ronaldo (pictured below) on the pitch, but less sense when you look at some of Juventus' recent performances and results.

Juventus' form a concern

Since the resumption of the Italian League season in mid-June Juventus' record in all competitions reads W6-D4-L4. After starting brightly their form tailed off: their eight-match form reads W2-D2-L4, and even though the last two of those defeats came after their latest Serie A title had been claimed, their recent run of defeats - three in their last four outings - is hardly ideal.

At least Juventus' players have a good number of competitive minutes in their legs. Owing to the decision in France to halt the league season, Lyon have played just one competitive fixture in the past four-and-a-half months. That performance was impressive, however: it was their creditable penalty shoot-out defeat to PSG in the French League Cup final last Friday night after a 0-0 draw in normal time. Set up in the 3-5-2 formation that Lyon manager Garcia has favoured since his players returned to training, Lyon proved difficult to break down. This gives them hope that they can frustrate their Italian hosts on Friday night.

Given that solid defensive performance from Lyon against PSG, Under 2.5 Goals is an appealing selection as the outsider of two in the Under/Over market. Unders is 2.20 while Overs is 1.85. Lyon are expected to employ similar tactics against Juventus as they did against Paris - i.e. look to contain their opponents before occasionally hitting on the break. We suggested a lay of Over 2.5 Goals in that game against Paris at odds of 1.55 and the selection proved successful.

Asian Handicap a good option

It's hard to argue with Juventus' odds of 1.48 to win on the night, although laying this price will offer in-play trading opportunities if Lyon defend as obdurately as they did against PSG. Lyon are 8.00 to win in 90 minutes, with The Draw 4.90. For a guide to laying and trading on Betfair, click here.

A Lyon win in 90 minutes would be a massive shock but the combination of Juventus' poor form going into the game and Lyon's solidity against PSG less than a week before this fixture takes place throws up an opportunity to support Lyon on the Asian Handicap. The Ligue 1 visitors are 2.30 with a +1.0 start and 1.86 with a +1.0&+1.5 start. With the first selection you'll get your stakes back if Lyon lose by a single goal and win if they draw or win. With the second, you'll make a profit as long as Lyon avoid defeat by two goals. For a full guide to Asian Handicap betting, click here.

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