Preview: Juventus vs. Porto

Preview: Juventus vs. Porto 

The reigning champions of Italy and Portugal resume their battle for a Champions League quarter-final place on Tuesday evening, as Juventus host Porto trailing by a goal from the first leg.

Needing to overturn a deficit in the last-16 for the second year in a row, the Bianconeri will look to overcome injury troubles and inconsistent form to dispatch their talented Iberian counterparts in Turin.
Last month, in Porto, the home side unexpectedly took the lead inside just two minutes through Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi and found themselves two goals to the good soon after half-time, thanks to a strike from his partner Moussa Marega.

Seemingly stunned into inertia, Juventus found themselves short of inspiration on the night, but Federico Chiesa’s potentially crucial away goal late on left the tie in the balance.

Nearly two decades since Cristiano Ronaldo left his beloved homeland, Portugal’s caps and goals record-holder returned to no avail and cut a frustrated figure on the night.

The former Sporting academy graduate has experienced just a single win from seven meetings with Porto in his long and distinguished career – registering just one goal too – so will be doubly determined to help turn the tie around this week. Having benefited from a rare rest during the first hour of Juve’s clinical 3-1 win over Lazio on Saturday, he should be in prime shape to do so.

Partly due to rookie coach Andrea Pirlo’s experimental and adaptable approach, Juventus are still searching for consistency, but have nonetheless conceded only six goals in their last thirteen games in all competitions – even in spite of an ongoing injury crisis in defence. Not only that, but Juve have won their last seven home matches in Serie A, scoring at least twice on each occasion.

In fact, all season long, Pirlo’s men have proved a tough proposition at the Allianz Stadium, with ten wins and two draws from 13 league contests at their state-of-the-art base proving the best home record on the peninsula.

Currently on the coat-tails of the Milan clubs in Serie A, still with a game in hand, they are certainly live contenders for a 10th successive Scudetto, if from the unusual standpoint of underdogs to Antonio Conte’s rampant Inter.

With the Champions League trophy proving elusive for so long though, the often-criticised Pirlo would instead be lauded if his charges can take the next step towards continental glory on Tuesday night.Last month, in Porto, the home side unexpectedly took the lead inside just two minutes through Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi and found themselves two goals to the good soon after half-time, thanks to a strike from his partner Moussa Marega.

Seemingly stunned into inertia, Juventus found themselves short of inspiration on the night, but Federico Chiesa’s potentially crucial away goal late on left the tie in the balance.

Nearly two decades since Cristiano Ronaldo left his beloved homeland, Portugal’s caps and goals record-holder returned to no avail and cut a frustrated figure on the night.

The former Sporting academy graduate has experienced just a single win from seven meetings with Porto in his long and distinguished career – registering just one goal too – so will be doubly determined to help turn the tie around this week. Having benefited from a rare rest during the first hour of Juve’s clinical 3-1 win over Lazio on Saturday, he should be in prime shape to do so.

Partly due to rookie coach Andrea Pirlo’s experimental and adaptable approach, Juventus are still searching for consistency, but have nonetheless conceded only six goals in their last thirteen games in all competitions – even in spite of an ongoing injury crisis in defence. Not only that, but Juve have won their last seven home matches in Serie A, scoring at least twice on each occasion.

In fact, all season long, Pirlo’s men have proved a tough proposition at the Allianz Stadium, with ten wins and two draws from 13 league contests at their state-of-the-art base proving the best home record on the peninsula.

Currently on the coat-tails of the Milan clubs in Serie A, still with a game in hand, they are certainly live contenders for a 10th successive Scudetto, if from the unusual standpoint of underdogs to Antonio Conte’s rampant Inter.

With the Champions League trophy proving elusive for so long though, the often-criticised Pirlo would instead be lauded if his charges can take the next step towards continental glory on Tuesday night.

In deservedly winning the opening leg last month, Porto extended their European unbeaten streak to six, as they continue the club’s 24th Champions League campaign – a total fewer than only Real Madrid and Barcelona (both 25).

Sergio Conceicao’s side, however, currently sit adrift of old rivals Sporting in the league, as they attempt to retain the Primeira Liga title, after fending off Benfica to pick up a 29th domestic crown last season.

Though they have once again shown themselves to be a potent attacking outfit this term, with 47 goals so far in the Portuguese top flight – more than anyone else – the Dragons have drawn too many games for their ever-demanding fans’ liking. Nonetheless, they remain unbeaten in 16 straight outings in the league, following a 2-0 win at struggling Gil Vicente at the weekend.

Porto were stunned by Braga in the second leg of their cup semi-final last Wednesday, losing 3-2 at home and 4-3 on aggregate, amid suggestions of mental burn-out from the media – swiftly rejected by their manager. A memorable run in the Champions League, though, would boost morale and compensate for a less than stellar domestic campaign.

Having finally toppled Juventus for the first time (at the sixth attempt) Porto are now in pole position to seal progress to the last eight, but will be eminently wary of the abilities of old friends – such as past Estadio do Dragao favourite Alex Sandro – and old foes, like one Cristiano Ronaldo: ever a man for the big occasion.

Juventus Champions League form: LWWWWL

Juventus form (all competitions): LLWDWW

Porto Champions League form: WWWDWW

Porto form (all competitions): DWWDLW

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