After a tightly-fought 1-1 draw in the first leg, Juventus and Villarreal reconvene for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 quarter-final tie at the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Bianconeri head into the second leg having marched to a 3-1 Serie A win over Sampdoria, while Unai Emery’s side scraped past Celta Vigo 1-0 in La Liga.
Taking to the Champions League like a duck to water, Juve’s Dusan Vlahovic needed no more than 32 seconds of European action to open his account on the continental stage – and some finish it was too – but an injury-hit Bianconeri could not hold on.
Villarreal’s timeless veteran Dani Parejo ensured that it would be left all to play for in Turin with his 66th-minute equaliser, but that 1-1 draw represented the last in a sequence of Juventus stalemates, with Massimiliano Allegri’s side since developing into a winning machine.
The Scudetto chasers are now unbeaten in 12 successive games across all competitions since their Super Cup heartache against Inter Milan back in January – winning each of their last four – and an own goal from Maya Yoshida alongside Alvaro Morata’s brace propelled Juve to a 3-1 success over Sampdoria on Saturday.
Still rank outsiders when it comes to reclaiming their domestic crown, Juventus suffered last-16 exits in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 editions of the Champions League and have not progressed further than the quarter-finals since falling at the last hurdle to Real Madrid in 2017, but an opportunity to make the last eight is theirs for the taking.
The abolition of the away goals rule does mean that both sides enter the contest on a level playing field, but Juve have not suffered defeat at home yet in 2022 and have only conceded four goals in their last 10 at the Allianz Stadium, which has become something of a European fortress for them in months gone by.
Going all the way in the Europa League is Unai Emery’s bread and butter, but Villarreal will travel to Turin as the underdogs to advance to the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite competition after failing to take full advantage of Juve’s injury woes in the first leg.
The Yellow Submarine have been hit-and-miss since playing out that 1-1 with the Bianconeri, thrashing Espanyol 5-1, going down 1-0 to Osasuna and scraping past Celta Vigo in Saturday’s fixture courtesy of another second-half Parejo effort.
Only twice before have Villarreal managed to make it as far as the quarter-finals in the Champions League – most recently doing so in 2008-09 before being swiftly dispatched by Emery’s old club Arsenal – and an extensive injury list does not bode well for the Yellow Submarine here.
Villarreal do know what it takes to get the better of Italian sides on their own turf – coming up trumps in a 3-2 thriller with Atalanta BC back in December – but the 2005-06 semi-finalists can only boast one clean sheet from their last 15 away Champions League matches ahead of a daunting trip to Turin.
The 1-1 stalemate in the first leg marked the inaugural competitive meeting between Villarreal and Juventus in any continental competition, and it will certainly be a case of European veterans versus Champions League novices in the battle for supremacy in Turin.
Juventus Champions League form:
Juventus form (all competitions):
Villarreal Champions League form:
Villarreal form (all competitions):
We say: Juventus 2-0 Villarreal (Juventus win 3-1 on aggregate)
With a much more established feel about the Juve defence as Allegri prepares to welcome several big names back to the fold, the stage is set for the Bianconeri’s European experience to come to the fore.
It is now Villarreal’s turn to work around a wealth of absentees, and with Juve boasting a well-rested Vlahovic and proving an extremely tough nut to crack on home soil, we can only back Allegri’s men to finish the job and progress to the last eight.