Champions League: FC Porto v Juventus

FC Porto v Juventus

Thursday February 23, 6:45am AEDT


FC Porto

The Dragons finished second in their group, two points behind Leicester. Given how Leicester have been playing recently, that looks a poor effort from a side with their Champions League pedigree. But it’s worth remembering the Foxes put all their efforts into this competition. When Claudio Ranieri’s men showed up in Porto playing a reserve side, the hosts spanked them 5-0, a reminder of what they can do on their day.

Their current form is brilliant. Since a remarkable four 0-0 draws in a row (including one away at Copenhagen in this competition) between mid and late November, they’ve won 11 of their last 12 matches.

Say what you like about the quality of Portuguese football compared to other leagues but that’s a serious feat.

Better still, Nuno Espirito Santo has a full squad of players to choose from. That includes Iker Casillas, who knows a thing or two about Champions League knock-out ties.


Juventus

A typically professional performance from Juventus saw them take 14 points from their six matches and finish the group stages unbeaten. Though to be fair, that doesn’t tell the full story. They were battered in Lyon but ended up winning 1-0 thanks to an out-of-this-world performance from Gigi Buffon, who saved a penalty and made a string of world-class saves. Their goalscorer that day was Juan Cuadrado, discarded by Chelsea but one of their most consistent performers this season, often operating as a right wing-back or right winger.

Their own league form is pretty obscene. They’ve won their last 12 in one of the toughest leagues in the world and everyone else has it all to do to catch them.

But unlike his counter-part, Massimiliano Allegri has a couple of injury concerns. Defensive pair Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini are both struggling to be fit for the game. The absence of one of them, or both, would be a huge blow to Juve’s chances of getting a positive result in Porto.


Match Odds

Despite the fact these two make the Champions League just about every single year, matches between them have been few and far between. We have to go back to 2001/2 for the only time they met in Europe’s premier competition at the group stages. After a 0-0 draw in Porto, Juve won 3-1 but that was so long ago that it’s an irrelevance.

Given that all four matches played at the time of writing in the last 16 have been won by the home team and Porto’s strong recent form, it could be argued the hosts look rather big at 3.70.

But that’s countered by a huge gulf in class between the players who will be on the pitch. Just as an example, Porto would consider Andre Silva (21 goals this season in all competitions) their main threat. But at 21 years of age, that’s a far cry from the experience of the likes of Gonzalo Higuain or Mario Mandzukic. If we were forced to play this market, the draw might look like the best option of the three at 3.20. But we’ll leave it anyway.


Over/Under 2.5 goals

At first glance, you can see why ‘unders’ is a strong favourite at 1.61. For both sides, just two of their six matches broke the three-goal barrier in the Group Stages. And in recent weeks Juve have gone about their business like the Juve of old. Barring a 4-1 win over Palermo last time out, they won four Serie A matches in a row without conceding- three were 2-0 and the other 1-0.

But those results go against the grain because in total 64% of Juve’s matches in Serie have gone ‘overs’. And guess what? The stats are exactly the same for Porto with an identical record of 75% of their home games in the league going overs, 50% away and the same combined total of 63%. That includes the fact that 9 of Porto’s last 11 matches have gone ‘overs.’

It’s true that first legs of knock-out stage matches tend to be low-scoring affairs but it’s now three out of four in the CL last 16 at the time of writing that have gone ‘overs’. By the way, those three actually all went over 3.5 goals.

All in all, we have to consider that 2.58 on ‘overs’ as value in light of those season-long stats. Juve’s attackers are more than capable of scoring three by themselves whilst the absence of either Barzagli or Chiellini (or both) makes you think Porto should score at least once.


To Score

Gonzalo Higuain, he of the 22 goals this season is available at [2.37] to score in the Betfair Sportsbook. You’ll see worse bets than that this week. The aforementioned Cuadrado, always a goal threat, is 4.00 and if you fancy a Porto goalscorer, it’s hard to look beyond young Silva at 3.20.


Betting Strategy

BACK – Over 2.5 goals at 2.58


related articles