Manchester United and Juventus meeting in the Champions League is surely the tie of the night on reputation and the European Giants might end up sharing the points this evening.
Jose Mourinho has been in the headlines yet again after those late scenes at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, when a Ross Barkley goal saw Chelsea snatch a point from a game which looked sure to be United’s. The frustration at that will be immense, but it was a marked improvement in performance from the majority of the season.
Key to that performance – all the more impressive considering how Chelsea started the first half – was Antony Martial, whose movement and pace were key along with his two goals, the first on the turn and the second when finishing a good move from Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford. He’s now had five consecutive starts and scored for the second game, a run that should become permanent if Mourinho has designs on working his way back into the race for the top four.
Juventus had won their opening 10 matches of the season and looked set to make it 11 when taking a 1-0 lead against Genoa as Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score 400 goals in Europe’s top five leagues, but they switched off in the second half when expecting the ball to run out of play only to see Christian Kouame pick up a loose ball and cross for the unmarked Bessa, who headed home from six yards out.
Massimo Allegri was frustrated and referred to this game as a reason why his side switched off but they still dominated the game, although late pressure was not enough to force a result. Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala were partly rested then and there will be no loss of focus here.
On the balance of the season so far Juventus are worthy favourites but United were improved against Chelsea, coming off the back of a vital win against Newcastle, and will be a more difficult task now than two or three weeks ago. However, Juventus have lost just twice in 17 away Champions League encounters over the past four years and they came at Sevilla and Barcelona. They arguably have a stronger team now than for the former of those fixtures and are in better form than the beginning of last season.
Manchester United v Juventus
Champions League 8pm
Live on BT Sport 2 HD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
FEB 2003 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Juventus 0-3 Manchester United
FEB 2003 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Manchester United 2-1 Juventus
APR 1999 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Juventus 2-3 Manchester United
APR 1999 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Manchester United 1-1 Juventus
DEC 1997 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Juventus 1-0 Manchester United
OCT 1997 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Manchester United 3-2 Juventus
NOV 1996 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Manchester United 0-1 Juventus
SEP 1996 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Juventus 1-0 Manchester United
APR 1984 EURO CUP WINNERS’ CUP Juventus 2-1 Manchester United
APR 1984 EURO CUP WINNERS’ CUP Manchester United 1-1 Juventus
United, meanwhile, have lost only three of their last 22 European matches and a point here would be ideal for both teams. United might be struggling domestically but have four points from their two games so far and can grow into the group whilst Juventus would have seven points from three, a situation which suits them ideally. A DRAW suits everyone, including me.
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