Juventus v Porto: Underdogs can find a way through

Sergio Conceicao
Sergio Conceicao will fancy his chances of knocking out Juve

The odds don't fully reflect how hard a task Juve have on their hands so the smart money is on Porto booking their place in the Quarters, says Jamie Pacheco...

"Any draw or win would see them through and even if it’s 2-1 Juve after normal time, they’ll have every chance in extra time so that’s the bet for me: Porto to qualify."

Juventus v Porto
Tuesday March 9, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports

Pirlo under pressure

The decision to appoint the completely inexperienced Andrea Pirlo as manager of Juventus despite little or no experience of coaching at any level, let alone being manager of the one of most famous and successful sides in the world, was a real gamble.

Or was it? It would have been extremely difficult to hit the ground running in his first season at this level and to go on and win another Serie A title and go deep in the Champions League, but maybe Juve are somewhat happy to 'sacrifice' one season of mediocrity by their standards if it means they've got a great coach who knows the league and the club inside out and can benefit from that experience, his footballing brain and charisma for years to come.

They'll certainly do very well to win Serie A from this position and as we'll see in a minute, qualification to the next stage of the Champions League is going to be far from straightforward.

At least they won at the weekend - 3-1 at home to Lazio - and were able to rest star man Cristiano Ronaldo, who only came on for the first half hour. Alvaro Morata starred in his absence, scoring two and assisting one and it would be a huge surprise if the pair of them didn't play upfront together in this one.

Andrea Pirlo 1280.jpg

Porto fully focused on Europe

Porto are another side used to winning their own domestic league who may just have to settle for minor places this campaign.

They're 10 ten points off a fine Sporting Lisbon side and in a league like the Portuguese one, you don't make up that sort of gap quickly.

Still, the fact that's the case will force their hand in focusing on this match more than any other the whole season and in a division where even the Big Three are financially unstable, a campaign where they make the quarters or better in the Champions League would be seen as a highly successful one when you have huge debts to settle.

They beat Gil Vicente 2-0 away from home at the weekend but that's light years away from the challenge they face on Tuesday.

Swerve the match winner market

I'm happy to share a few Opta stats with you ahead of this game but I'll warn you in advance that I'm not paying massive attention to them.

Porto are winless in their last 13 away knockout games in the Champions League, the last time they won one of those being in 2003-4 under Jose Mourinho, when they went and beat Coruna away before going on to win the whole thing.

There's another one that says Porto have bizarrely lost all three knockout ties in the Champions League where they took a lead in the first leg. For my money, that's just a statistical quirk rather than a pattern that really means something.

So Juve are 1.4840/85 to win the game with the draw 4.94/1 and Porto a huge 8.07/1. The latter is somewhat unlikely given how seldom the Bianconeri lose at home in Europe against anyone. Either way, in a tie as sensitively poised as this one, I'd rather focus on the 'to qualify' market than the match odds one.

Juve could well crash out

Sorry if this sounds overly simplistic but in a tie between two somewhat evenly-matched sides where the away side lost the first leg 2-1, there's little margin for error for the team who lost that first game.

'If' Porto get a goal, Juve need to score three. For a side who's a far cry from that team from a few years ago who seemed to keep clean sheets more often than not, this could spell trouble but then again, it depends on how willing Porto are to try to get that all-important goal rather than just trying to protect what they have.

CRonaldo200121.jpg

But Porto scored in six of their seven games away in the Champions League this season. The only one where they didn't score was in a creditable 0-0 draw at home to Man City so the smart money is on them scoring again.

And if that's the case, that should be enough to see them through. So the 2.56/4 that Porto qualify looks pretty decent. Any draw or win would see them through and even if it's 2-1 Juve after normal time, they'll have every chance in extra time so that's the bet for me: Porto to qualify.

Good same-game multi-bet to consider

Same-game multi-bets are always a good way to join two or more opinions on the game and once you put the selections together, they can often come to some pretty juicy odds. As an example, you can take Saturday's two-goal man Alvaro Morata to get a goal at 11/10 and put that together with both teams scoring (9/10) to come up with a double at 3.56. I wouldn't put anyone off that.

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