Juve make case for defence against Atletico in Champions League
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is yet to be beaten in six outings in all competitions this season, yet Coral make the Turin giants 5/2 to upset Atletico Madrid, who were beaten Champions League finalists back in May.
The bookies are certainly hedging their bets on Diego Simeone’s side and the recruitment made in a bid to replace Diego Costa. Atletico start as 6/5 favourites for three points in Europe’s elite club competition, but the Spanish champions were beaten by Greek counterparts Olympiakos in their first Group A outing.
New signings Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann were both on target for Simeone then, but that shock loss, coupled with just two clean sheets in their last six, raises doubts about Atletico’s ability to repeat their exceptional exploits on all fronts from 2013/14.
Contrast those relative frailties, and the fact that only Filipe Luis has left from last season’s first-choice back four, with the defensive solidity of Juventus. Much-maligned manager Massimiliano Allegri has been missing experienced duo Andrea Barzagli and Martin Caceres from his backline in Turin this term, but the Old Lady is yet to concede. Juve are a tasty 12/5 to keep a clean sheet here.
Punters may feel justified in seeing Atletico as false favourites for this fixture; however, they are unbeaten domestically with four wins and two draws. Croatia frontman Mandzukic has three in seven appearances for Simeone’s side, including non-competitive outings in the Spanish Super Cup. The former Bayern Munich man is short, though, at evens to net anytime against Juventus.
It may be Italian attacker Alessio Cerci, who played for the Old Lady’s local rivals Torino, that punters wish to consider in this market. He will want to get one over this old enemy and moved to the Vicente Calderon in a bid to enhance his chances of regular international football. Cerci is 5/1 to score the opener.
Another Atletico name with a point to prove, and one familiar to English audiences, is deep-lying Portuguese midfielder Tiago. He played for Juve between 2007 and 2010 before joining the Spanish capital club, initially on loan. Tiago is 6/1 to come back and haunt his former club by scoring anytime.
Half of Juventus’ dozen goals, meanwhile, have come from a man who once crossed the Manchester divide; Carlos Tevez. All six of the Argentine attacker’s strikes have come in the last four matches. That is a red hot streak, so Tevez is splendid value to keep it going at 7/4 in the anytime market, and a tempting 9/1 for two or more against Atletico, as he did last time out in the Champions League.
Allegri will be concerned by Basque target man Fernando Llorente’s form, though, as the 6ft 5in frontman is yet to net for Juve this term. Fellow Spaniard Alvaro Morata stepped up his return from injury by rounding off the scoring in the Old Lady’s last outing, so odds of 7/1 say he will get the last goal again. The diminutive Sebastian Giovinco is a 2/1 attacking alternative in the anytime market.
Midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Gabi should both sit on the sidelines, so Juventus and Atletico will be missing some respective style and bite for this battle. Home advantage may not be enough to ensure the Spanish side record a first favourable result of this European campaign. Punters should not rule out a Juve win to nil at 9/2, so bet now.