Juventus and Lyon are set to face each other once again as the Champions League returns after a long break
The Allianz Stadium will be well lit tonight as Juventus will take on Lyon in the return leg of the UEFA Champions League, Round of 16. The Bianconeri will be hoping to turn the tie around in their favour after losing the first leg away at the Groupama Stadium by just one goal to nil.
Meanwhile, Lyon will be hoping to protect their crucial advantage as the French side has been out of action for several months since the French FA had suspended the rest of the league instead of resuming it like all other major leagues. The Ligue 1 and the Dutch league were the only two prominent European Leagues to have suspended the remainder of the season because of the global pandemic, COVID-19.
Rudi Garcia’s men will play their second competitive professional match tonight at the Allianz Stadium and it expected that the players would have fresh recharged feet ready for action, however, playing at such a level after so many months might prove to be suicidal for the French side as there is a high risk of muscular injuries.
Nonetheless, the fixture tonight would be one to savour for, and as expected all the limelight would be at Cristiano Ronaldo to turn the score around.
JUVENTUS’S PERFORMANCE SO FAR
After a poor display against AS ROMA, Juventus were crowned as champions of Italy for the nineth consecutive time. Maurizio Sarri picked up his first league winners medal this season as a manager, however, unlike the other Scudetto wins, Juve has struggled all season long.
The midfield of Juventus has been a serious issue this season. Despite signing Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot to add the much-needed creativity in the middle of the park, the Bianconeri have failed in the midfield battle.
Sarri’s Juventus is highly reliant on the wing-backs to push forward to add more numbers upfront to outnumber the opposition as the midfield is more or less nonexistent. As both the full-backs maintain a high-line, Juve has been extremely susceptible to pinpoint through balls this season which has been a serious issue.
With Joao Cancelo making a move to Manchester City in a swap deal that saw Danilo swap places, Sarri has shockingly opted to play Juan Cuadrado for the better half of the season as a right-back ahead of the former Real Madrid player.
Injuries have been another serious issue for the Serie A side, as both Leonardo Bonnucci and Giorgio Chiellini have been sidelined for the vast majority of the season. Merih Demiral has also torn his ACL after putting in several world-class performances.
Matthijs de Ligt has finally found his tune in the Juventus squad, however, the former Ajax Amsterdam captain will lead the defensive tonight with an injured shoulder as he has opted to postpone his surgery.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala have been the consistent performers this season for the Old Lady in the attacking department. Meanwhile, Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi, and Gonzalo Higuain have been more or less dormant.
If Juve is to overturn the scoreline tonight, a team effort would certainly be required.
LYON’S PERFORMANCE SO FAR
Lyon has certainly underperformed this season as the French side have failed to secure a spot for the UEFA Europa League next season as they finished seventh in the league before it was suspended due to COVID-19.
In the 2018-19 season, Lyon had finished third in the Ligue 1, however, this season, the club’s captain Memphis Depay has been absent for quite a while due to his injury and his absence has been felt gravely.
Nonetheless, the French side put a serious challenge against Juventus in the first leg as Lyon managed to win the game by suppressing the midfield of the Italian side. Rudri Garcia had instructed his men to narrow the width which left the Bianconeri helpless while attacking.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s threat was nullified after the team adopted a high press which then saw the former Real Madrid man is isolated in the opposition box with barely any passes coming his way.
Moussa Dembele would certainly be the difference-maker for Rudi Garcia if the club is to score a crucial away goal in the Allianz Stadium. Dembele has scored 16 goals in the Ligue 1 and it is expected that the player would most likely not perform the way he did in the first leg at home.
The Les Gones are definitely the underdogs tonight, however, with the return of Memphis Depay upfront it seems like Lyon might just do the impossible if all works out. Having said that, Lyon will be without Lucas Tousart the only scorer in the first leg as the player was sent out on loan in the winter transfer.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, Cristiano Ronaldo is the man for the most challenging football fixtures and if there is anyone who can turn this game around, it is none other than the Portuguese forward.
The 35-year-old has been phenomenal this season with 31 league goals in 33 league appearances. The former Real Madrid forward is basking in fine form since the start of 2020. Even if Ronaldo was struggling with form, the Portuguese has the self-built intuition to always turn up in the games that matter the most.
His record speaks for itself. Last season, Ronaldo scored all the five goals that Juventus had scored in the knockout stages of the Champions League and how could one forget his hattrick against all odds to send Atletico Madrid out in the round of 16.
Keep a close watch on this 35-year-old during tonight’s game as all the limelight will come shining down upon him to turn it around.
MEMPHIS DEPAY AND MOUSSA DEMBELE
Memphis Depay has unfortunately missed out on the vast majority of the 2019/20 season after the Dutch international was ruled out due to an injury. However, Depay is fully-fit and is ready to step up in the attack.
Despite being linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund, the former Manchester United man will give it his all today to end the season on a high note. Depay has scored 9 goals in the league this season in just 13 games and the Dutch forward would want to add one more tonight against Juve.
His skillful feet and pace could be a serious threat to Juventus’s defense that has been exploited several times this season.
Moussa Dembele had a poor game in the first-leg at home as the striker was more or less dormant during the entire game. With little to no contribution in the former fixture, Dembele would be eager to find the net this time. With Depay back in the squad, a possible partnership of the Dutch and the French forward could prove to be lethal.
Image Credits- Juventus Twitter