Tottenham Hotspur will take on Juventus with an intention of making it to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2011.
Tottenham Hotspur will welcome Italian champions Juventus to Wembley on Wednesday night, for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.
The first leg in Turin ended in a 2-2 draw, with Spurs completing a spirited comeback after going two goals down very early in the game, which has given them a slight advantage going into Wednesday’s fixture. For Juventus to go through to the quarter-finals, they will have to beat Mauricio Pochettino’s side on the night, or secure a scored draw of 3-3 or higher.
Since the last time the two sides met, Tottenham have been in impressive form, registering wins over Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town in the Premier League and also achieved progression to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, by beating Rochdale 6-1 in the fourth round replay.
The Bianconeri, too, have been on a good run of form, notching up consecutive victories over Torino and Lazio in the Serie A, with a win over Atalanta in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia sandwiched in between. Incidentally, all the three victories have been by a 1-o scoreline.
Team News and Tactics
Tottenham will once again be without the services of defensive mainstay Toby Alderweireld as the Belgian defender continues his recovery from a hamstring problem. Alderweireld’s compatriot and partner at the back Jan Vertonghen returned from injury last weekend and will be expected to take the field against Juve.
Right-back Serge Aurier will miss out though, as he serves out a suspension after picking up his third yellow card of the competition in the first leg.
Hugo Lloris will start between the sticks for the North London outfit at the Wembley, protected by a back four comprising of Kieran Trippier, Davinson Sanchez, Vertonghen and Ben Davies. Pochettino will be hoping for a much improved display from his defence compared to what was on show in Turin last time out.
In the middle of the park, Eric Dier will once again partner up with Belgian international Mousa Dembele. The latter has been in very good form of late and is continuing to cement his status as a vital cog in the midfield engine room for Spurs. He will need to be at his best on Wednesday against the Italian champions.
Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-Min will start on the right and the left flanks respectively, with Dele Alli slotting in as the No.10 for Spurs. The trio form a deadly attacking contingent with their incision and dynamism and will hope to cause plenty of problems for the visitors.
Leading the line for Tottenham will be star man Harry Kane. The England international started the turnaround in the first leg scoring the first goal for Spurs and will be hoping to make a telling impact at Wembley to see his side through to the next round.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele; Eriksen, Alli, Son; Kane;
The Italians will go into the game with Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi absent, but the return of Paulo Dybala, who scored in the win over Lazio will be a big boost. Gonzalo Higuain, who scored both the goals for Juventus in the first leg, has been cleared to play after he missed the weekend game due to an injury. Fellow attacker Mario Mandzukic misses out with a thigh problem.
The legendary Gianluigi Buffon will take his spot between the sticks for the Old Lady at Wembley. Stephan Lichtsteiner is expected to start at right-back with Alex Sandro occupying the opposite side of the backline. Medhi Benatia and Giorgio Chiellini are likely to line up in the heart of the defence. How they cope against the dangerous Tottenham attack will probably decide the outcome of the game.
The midfield trio of Sami Khedira, Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi will start at Wembley. Pjanic will be key for Juventus with his ability to carve out chances from the midfield while Khedira and Matuidi will be tasked with protecting the back four.
With Bernardeschi ruled out of the tie, former Bayern Munich winger Douglas Costa will start out on the right-flank, while Paulo Dybala is likely will start in the left channel. Higuain will once again be asked to act as the focal point of the Juventus attack. Goals are a must for Juventus if they are to stand a chance of going through and a lot will depend on how the two Argentine stars perform on the night.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Benatia, Chiellini, Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Costa, Higuain, Dybala;
- Tottenham are unbeaten in seven home matches against Italian teams, winning four and drawing three.
- Juventus are undefeated in their last 6 matches in the UEFA Champions League.
- The Bianconeri haven’t tasted defeat in their last three official fixtures in England.
- Spurs are undefeated in their last 8 matches in the UEFA Champions League.
- Tottenham have scored at least two goals in seven of their last eight games in the Champions League.
Player to watch
Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
The England international hasn’t been able to hit the heights of last season for Tottenham this time around, but continues to be a vital cog in the scheme of things. In 39 appearances across all competitions, Alli has managed 9 goals and 12 assists, which are still very impressive numbers.
With Juventus likely to set out to attack, Alli will find spaces to exploit in the attacking third and he has the ability to wreak havoc in such situations.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Juventus
Both teams have been in good form coming into the big game on Wednesday, but the onus will be on Juventus to get out of the blocks quickly and grab a goal, which is likely to leave them exposed at the back.
Tottenham have the quality to beat any side on their day, as displayed by their performance against Real Madrid in the group stages and here at the Hard Tackle, we predict a 2-1 win for the North Londoners on home soil.