Juventus could seal their spot in the round of 16 if they can beat Olympique Lyonnais at Juventus Stadium this Wednesday.
The Bianconeri are still unbeaten in their Champions League campaign, and have picked up seven points out of nine after three games. Massimiliano Allegri’s men did not start off on the best footing, as they were held to a drab scoreless draw against Sevilla. However, they rebounded by thrashing Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 before edging out Lyon 1-0. Gianluigi Buffon arguably was the star in that match as he saved a spot-kick before Juan Cuadrado’s late goal was enough to seal the win.
Juventus come into this match having downed Napoli 2-1. Ironically for the Partenopei, Gonzalo Higuain was the one to condemn his former side to yet another defeat in Turin. That result, coupled with Roma’s insipid scoreless draw with Empoli, has helped La Vecchia Signora to pull four points clear of the chasing pack. Suffice it to say, they are the heavy favorites to make it an unprecedented sixth straight title. Even when not at 100 per cent, Juventus are still a step above the competition, and they have gotten that much more stronger due to signings like Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Dani Alves, Mario Mandzukic, Sami Khedira, and Miralem Pjanic over the past two seasons.
The Bianconeri, as we all know, are quite strong at home. They’ve only lost two out of their last 36 Champions League home games, and both were to Bayern Munich. (The Bavarians really have become a bogey team for Juventus as of late, and indeed it will be interesting to see if they will have to play die Roten at some point). Presently, they are on an 18-match unbeaten home streak, and will look to make it number 19 on Wednesday.
In addition, Juventus have never lost to French opposition at home. Out of their prior 12, they’ve won ten. So far, they have yet to concede a goal in this competition and will be welcoming a Lyon side who are still struggling to find their best form. Les Gones have lost five out of their past seven games across all competitions and four in their last septet of away fixtures. However, they do arrive in Turin having earned a confidence-boosting win over Toulouse. Alexandre Lacazette was the man of that match as his brace was enough to secure a 2-1 victory for his team, who were a man down for about 30 minutes.
Lyon are still very much in this competition. Given that they do have three points, they of course will need to make sure they don’t lose. A point, therefore, would be enough to salvage a small chance of making it to the Champions League round of 16. Still, they are coming up against a Juventus side who have been simply unstoppable at home. Even though the Bianconeri will be missing Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala due to injury (whilst Lyon have both Mathieu Valbuena and Christophe Jallet out), they just appear to be a side not lacking in overall confidence at the moment.
So far, several teams have already booked their spots in the round of 16. Can Juventus become the first from Italy to do so? Or will Lyon throw a monkey wrench in those plans and revive their own flagging Champions League campaign?