In his preview of the glamour tie of Champions League matchday one, Dave Farrar predicts that Paulo Dybala and Juventus will torment Barcelona yet again at Camp Nou...
“Other than reputation, I can't see any reason why the Bianconeri are available to back at [5.3] here. They may settle for a draw, so Barca are a lay at [1.74].”
Juve in better shape than Barca right now
Juventus schooled Barcelona over two legs in last season's Champions League Quarter-Finals, and yet they're priced as pretty rank outsiders for this, the two teams' first game in this competition. I had to look twice when I saw that Juve were [5.3] for the win, but we'll return to that later.
Given Juve's dominance last time, we need to look at what has changed. Ernesto Valverde is now in charge at Barca, a move which seems to have been greeted as an upgrade, yet he now has to get a tune out of a squad which doesn't include Neymar, and looks weaker and older than it has in recent seasons.
Ousmane Dembele is a wonderful talent, albeit one that they paid too much money for, and he's unlikely to be involved here anyway. Paulinho is a better addition than many seem to think, but they still appear short of the standards other Barca sides have set in recent years, and they look very weak fourth favourites in the outright market at [8.2].
Barca have had a 100% start to the La Liga season, but this is a big step up from Betis, Alaves and Espanyol, and the more helpful form line might well be the Spanish Super Cup in August, in which Barca were comprehensively outplayed by Real Madrid. There's still a suspicion that Barca are a fading force.
As for Juventus, Leo Bonucci was their big summer departure, but despite that, their squad looks significantly stronger, with Medhi Benatia, Mattia De Sciglio and Benedikt Howedes all arriving to fill that particular hole, plus Douglas Costa, Blaise Matuidi and Federico Bernardeschi strengthening things further forward.
Barcelona worth opposing an odds-on
Don't forget that Barcelona have won only one of their last six competitive games against Juve and that was in a 2015 Final that the Old Lady dominated for long periods. Other than reputation, I can't see any reason why the Bianconeri are available to back at [5.3] here. They may settle for a draw, so Barca are a lay at [1.74] and given that Juve have scored on seven of the last eight occasions they've played against Barca, I'll take Paulo Dybala to be the man that torments them again.
Back red hot Dybala to continue scoring run
Dybala is in ridiculous form, scoring seven goals in his opening four games this season, and aside from a strange performance in Genoa, Juve have been pretty much perfect once again, winning their first three, and looking every inch like a team that will retain their title. Dybala scored twice in that first leg win against Barca last season, and he strikes me as pretty decent value To Score at Any Time at [3.3].
Markets overestimating chances of goals
In terms of the goals markets, it's obviously tempting to think of this as a high-scoring game, given the attacking talent that both sides possess, but Over 2.5 goals are pretty short at [1.73], and that looks to be a price that is there more in hope that expectation. It finished 0-0 between these two at the Camp Nou last year, remember, and there's every chance that Juve will be able to come up with a plan which makes Barca look pedestrian.
I'd be tempted to lay Over 2.5 Goals at [1.74], but I'm happy to support Juve, and one of their two brilliant Argentine centre-forwards, to have success here once again.