Juventus v Real Madrid
Tuesday, 19:45 BST
Live on BT Sport 2
Juve in the groove
By this stage of the season, Juventus are usually coasting along in Serie A, another title sewn up, and fully focussed on breaking their mini European drought. It's a pattern that's worked nicely for them, two galling final losses aside, but things are different this year and it's tempting to wonder whether the added pressure on them domestically could raise their overall level in these final months of the season.
Juve have produced a run of 13 wins in 14 domestically (with just two goals conceded in that sequence) to respond to the threat of Napoli, and certainly appeared to have vast reserves of grit available to them when they came back from the dead in the last round of the Champions League. The Spurs players are probably still wondering what happened on that dramatic night at Wembley.
The Turin side also had to dig deep against Milan at the weekend, scoring twice late on to secure a 3-1 win, and it was interesting to see Massimiliano Allegri test formations in that one. He started with a back three before switching to a back four at half-time, and given the effectiveness of the reverse shift against Tottenham, it would be no great surprise were he to try something similar on Tuesday night.
Options aplenty for Zidane
With their hopes of catching Barcelona in La Liga having expired months ago, Real Madrid's season has long been focussed on their favourite competition. Domestic form has picked up markedly, but only in service of the overarching goal, with Zinedine Zidane testing and resting as appropriate.
That much was clear on Saturday night, when key names were left out of the squad that played Las Palmas. Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco, Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos all remained at home, and with Dani Carvajal having served a ban, freshness isn't going to be a concern.
Zidane does have some tough decisions to make, however, with so many attackers making cases for inclusion over recent weeks: Isco was superb for Spain in the international break; Lucas Vázquez and Marco Asensio shone against Paris Saint-Germain; Gareth Bale has six goals in his last four games for club and country.
Madrid slight favourites
This, of course, isn't the first time these two clubs have tangoed in recent seasons. Madrid came out on top in last year's Champions League final, defeating a strangely limp Juve side to retain the trophy, and there's every chance 18 or 19 of the players who started in Cardiff will be back on duty on Tuesday night. The home side, therefore, will see this tie as an opportunity for revenge.
Juventus do have happier memories of this match-up, too: they were actually the last side to knock Madrid out of the competition, eking out a 3-2 aggregate victory at the semi-final stage in 2014/15, on the way to meeting Barcelona in the final. The first leg was at home on that occasion, too, and the current side would surely take a matching 2-1 victory before kick-off.
The 2.982/1 available on Juve to win is tempting, not least because they are currently on a 27-game unbeaten run at home in European competition. But Madrid's concussive power overwhelmed PSG in the last round, and there is a belief flowing through the side. They just have a knack of getting the job done in this competition, and are even slim favourites at 2.747/4.
Goals on the cards
Juve have kept 14 clean sheets in those 27 unbeaten European home games - a decent record, but nothing compared to their frugality in the league, suggesting Serie A's attacks are poor preparation for the continent's heavy artillery. They certainly didn't convince when Spurs pitched up at at the Allianz, and Madrid will surely feel they can have some success against Mehdi Benatia and the ageing Andrea Barzagli.
Madrid have scored in 23 successive Champions League games and should do so here, yet always give you a chance at the other end. With that in mind, 1.9110/11 for both teams to score looks like value. That bet would have paid out in each of the last five meetings between the sides.
Ronaldo back on goal trail
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 23 goals in his last 13 matches. He has scored in every Champions League game so far this season. He is Cristiano Ronaldo, for heaven's sake, and at 2.47/5, we are very much involved.