Juventus v Barcelona: Old Lady to keep Catalans at bay

European titans Juventus and Barcelona face-off on Wednesday night and Mark O'Haire's anticipating an enjoyable Champions League showdown in Turin.

Juventus v Barcelona
Wednesday October 28, 20:00
BT Sport

Juventus held at home

Juventus failed to pick up maximum points for the third successive Serie A fixture on Sunday night as only a Dejan Kulusevski moment of magic cancelled out Andrea Favilli's opener for Hellas Verona in Turin. Andrea Pirlo's men had been foiled by Roma (2-2) and Crotone (1-1) in their previous two league outings and failed to fire again without Cristiano Ronaldo.

Paulo Dybala was given his first start in three months with Federico Bernardeschi, Alvaro Morata and Aaron Ramsey included as Pirlo switched system once more to something more akin to 4-4-2. But the Old Lady lacked verve, leading to the rookie boss suggesting, "We shouldn't need a slap in the face to wake up, we ought to start with intensity" post-match.

There are issues for Pirlo to overcome ahead of Wednesday night's crunch clash with Leonardo Bonucci pulling up clutching the back of his thigh and immediately asked to be substituted. The veteran is now considered a major doubt and looks likely to join a list of unavailable players that include Ronaldo, Alex Sandro, Matthijs de Ligt and Giorgio Chiellini.

Barcelona beaten in El Clasico

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman slammed VAR after seeing his Bluagrana boys beaten 3-1 at home to Real Madrid in El Clasico on Saturday. Ansu Fati cancelled out Federico Valderde's early goal at the Camp Nou but referee Juan Martinez Munuero's decision to award a contentious second-half penalty turned the game on its head, handing Madrid the initiative.

The Catalans were angered by the decision with Koeman saying, "We played well and created chances. We did not deserve to lose and some of the referee's decisions, I did not understand. The decision to award a penalty has greatly influenced the game as we were fine before that. I do not understand VAR as it always seems to be against us."

Barcelona did perform reasonably well in patches but poor defensive displays again left FCB vulnerable in transitions, whilst Pedri and Phillipe Coutinho were ineffective. The latter is now an injury absentee, joining goalkeeper Marc Ter Stegen on the sidelines with Gerard Pique suspended. Miralem Pjanic and Antoine Griezmann are pushing for recalls.

Market can't split European giants

Wednesday night's match-up will only be the second occasion that Juventus and Barcelona have met in the Champions League group-stage. The Catalans collected four points over two tussles during the 2017/18 competition although the two teams are split by a W2-D3-L2 record when viewing the seven previous post-European Cup contests.

Juventus 2.70 have only been beaten twice at home in the Champions League group-stage this century and it's surprising to see the Old Lady offered in an almost pick 'em here. However, the Bianconeri are a work in progress under Andrea Pirlo, as evidenced by their recent encounters, and come into this clash missing their star striker, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona 2.78 are also underdoing a transition on the field, with plenty of upheaval in the boardroom. Ronaldo Koeman has attempted to switch the Blaugrana's style and system, and naturally there have been teething problems as the Catalans search for consistency. The visitors were second-best against Madrid, Getafe and Sevilla in their last three fixtures.

Old Lady can keep Catalans at bay

Over 2.5 Goals 1.82 could appeal considering how the two teams have performed defensively so far this season, coupled with the attacking arsenal the duo possess in forward areas. But the European heavyweights may approach this contest as a 'must not lose' affair knowing qualification for the knockout rounds will be earned elsewhere in Group G.

So instead, I'm happy to side with Juventus in the Double Chance market and Under 3.5 Goals for an even-money offering from Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi. Barcelona have tabled only five triumphs in their past 14 away Champions League games, scoring twice or more in just four of 17 games as guests in this competition over recent years.

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