FC PORTO VS JUVENTUS
This Wednesday FC Porto will host Juventus, in Dragão, for the first leg of the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. In the league, Sergio Conceicao and FC Porto will soon start to concede their title to the brilliant and young Ruben Amorim and his Sporting CP team. They are 10 points away from the top and have conceded two times more goals than Sporting. Porto have scored more goals than their rivals but conceding them is the problem right now (in the league). Their Champions League campaign however has been going right. They finished 2nd ahead of Olympiacos and Olympique de Marseille, with Manchester City topping the group. They drew with Manchester City in Portugal and lost 3-1 in England. Juventus are nowhere near as good as the English Premier League leaders but it will be a tough ask for FC Porto.
Their manager is bullish in his assertions. In his press conference ahead of the game, he said his side will go into the game “looking for a positive result, which is victory. This is what we want.” Iranian striker will be at the forefront of things for Porto if they do get that positive result. The striker is on 9 league goals so far, with 3 assists too. His strike partner Moussa Marega has 6 league goals and 1 Champions League goal while midfielder Sergio Oliveira is a threat too with 9 league goals and 3 in the Champions League. Their star player from last season Jesus Corona has not shown the kind of form that led to him winning Primeira Liga best player last season. The Mexican is another player to watch out for.
Juventus would finish top of Group F via head-to-head decision despite being level on points with Barcelona and having an inferior goal difference. Barcelona won the tie in Turin 0-2 but then Juventus won 0-3 at the Camp Nou. Mr Champions League himself is leading the Old Lady’s charge to win its first UCL since 1996. At 36, Cristiano Ronaldo is slowing down but he is still one of the most lethal forwards in the game. He has 4 goals in the UEFA Champions League campaign so far, netting twice against archrivals Barcelona, adding another goal, and an assist in the 2 legs against Ferencvárosi TC. The Champions League’s highest goalscorer of all time already has 16 goals in 18 Serie A appearances. CR7 is the obvious danger-man in the Juventus team.
His striker partner Alvaro Morata has 6(!) Champions League goals so far, but a meager 4 in the league, however, he boasts an impressive 7 assists. In rookie coach Andrea Pirlo’s 442, the pair will try to combine to send FC Porto out.
Speaking of the rookie in charge, Andrea Pirlo has not done such a bad job but Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Napoli means that the opportunity to retain their title is getting more distant. Juventus sits 8 points away from Inter Milan at the top of the table although they have a game in hand. I Bianconeri should be confident of moving past this stage, no offense to FC Porto. Juventus have the firepower and the quality of players to blitz past the Portuguese club. The popular pairing of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will start according to reports, more Champions League experience.
(Also, Danilo and Alex Sandro return to where their European journeys began)
Prediction: A draw in Portugal and Juventus advance in Turin
SEVILLA VS BORUSSIA DORTMUND
Sevilla take on Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 knockout tie at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Wednesday evening. It will be their first encounter since their 2009/2010 meeting.
Sevilla’s season did not start ideally but they have won their last 5 league games. In between, they have a healthy 2-0 lead over Barcelona from the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie. Julien Lopetogui’s team lost their season opener against Atletico Madrid and suffered losses in 3 consecutive games (match 6,7, and 8) but they have turned their season around. They now sit in 4th place with a great defensive record, even though they need more goals. Their star player has been Moroccan striker Youssef En-Nesyri signed in January 2020. He struggled after joining mid-season but he has been on fire so far scoring 13 league goals (0 assists even though he has created 5 big chances) and 4 in the Champions League.
Sevilla finished 2nd in their group after Chelsea hit them with 4 on the final Champions League matchday but they will sense a chance against BVB.
The addition of Papu Gomez is terrific business for the Seville club. Joan Jordan is a creative fulcrum in midfield while returnee Ivan Rakitic is a mixture of intelligence and energy. The pairing of Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde is one of the best in the world. The two are Real Madrid targets which shows you how well they are doing in defense. Behind them, Yassine Bounou (Bono) has been remarkable. Sevilla have a great chance to progress from this duel. They are more famous for their exploits in the Europa League but they do not have the option of dropping into UEFA’s inferior competition so they might as well go all the way.
Borussia Dortmund announced that Marco Rose will take over managerial proceedings from the beginning of next season. The decision to sack Lucien Favre and install Edin Terzic has not changed their fortunes and now there is a growing fear that Dortmund will not qualify for next year’s Champions League. They drew with Hoffenheim this weekend following a loss to Freiburg earlier. There are no signs of improvement despite the managerial change but this is a chance for them to turn around their fortunes. They qualified for the Round of 16 as the top team of their group ahead of Lazio, but they know that Sevilla will give them a stern test.
Their hopes of qualification hinge on Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho. The Norwegian striker loves this competition. He has 6 in this season’s campaign after netting 10 in the previous one. A goal-machine like this is always a tricky customer for any defense. He will be relying on service from the skillful and creative Jadon Sancho. The English winger did not start the season in great form but has improved in 2021. He has 2 goals and 2 assists in the UCL and 4 goals and 7 assists in the Bundesliga. Captain Marco Reus will also need to be at his best if they are to progress.
Prediction: Sevilla to qualify