Juventus v Atlético Madrid: Hosts have a mountain to climb in Turin
Jack Lang is expecting Diego Simeone's men to complete the job in the second leg of this Champions League clash...
"Do Juve have the talent to make a game of this? Absolutely, but this is a real balancing act. They have to be brave, but will know that allowing Atleti to score will put them in real trouble"
Juventus v Atlético Madrid
Live on BT Sport 3
Old Lady hoping for a miracle
It may or may not be a direct reflection of the mood within the dressing room, but Juventus' social media team at least seem sure that a big Champions League rescue act is possible in Turin on Tuesday night. They've put out a snazzy video to that effect, although quite why the fans in the clip are Scottish and English is anyone's guess. Perhaps they're hoping for a little of the British grit that served Manchester United so well last week.
The Old Lady warmed up for this one with a comfortable win over Udinese on Friday night, but Max Allegri's line-up underlined the extent to which Serie A is now a foregone conclusion. Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Mandžukić, Miralem Pjanić, Paulo Dybala, Leonardo Bonucci, João Cancelo and Giorgio Chiellini were all rested for that one, meaning there will be fresh legs and fresh impetus here.
Not that Allegri isn't without issues. With Alex Sandro suspended, and Mattia De Sciglio, Juan Cuadrado and Douglas Costa all injured, there are few options in wide areas. That could mean a start at full-back for Martín Cáceres, who is susceptible to pace, or a full-back berth for Federico Bernardeschi, who is more comfortable further forward.
Neither is ideal, especially given the need to keep things tight at the back.
Atleti's case for the defence
There are two things about Atlético Madrid's form that should scare Juve. The first is that they have won five games on the spin - their best run of the season so far. The second is that they have kept a clean sheet in every one of those matches. The defence is always the Litmus test with Diego Simeone's side: when it's this frugal, you know they're going to turn your life into a waking nightmare.
Like their opponents, Atleti are well rested. None of Diego Godín, Juanfran, Saúl, Álvaro Morata, Koke and Thomas Lemar was in the starting XI against Leganés at the weekend. That means Simeone will name a far stronger side on Tuesday night, albeit Diego Costa and Thomas Partey are both suspended.
There's also an issue at left-back: both Filipe Luís and Lucas Hernández are struggling with injuries, so Santiago Arias or Juanfran may have to fill in. The other option - and one that might just tempt Simeone given Mandžukić's ability at the far post - would just be to name another centre-back at full-back: Stefan Savić would be a square peg in a round hole, but he, together with Diego Godín and José María Giménez, would certainly shore things up at dead-ball situations.
Visitors can weather storm
There's no doubting that Juventus have a mountain to climb here. Atlético are mean opponents in a knockout tie at the best of times, but give them a two-goal advantage from the first leg (and a clean sheet to boot) and the task looks hugely daunting. Little wonder that Atleti are strong [1.31] favourites to progress.
Do Juve have the talent to make a game of this? Absolutely, but this is a real balancing act. They have to be brave, but will know that allowing Atleti to score will put them in real trouble: under Allegri, they have scored three times on just three occasions at home in the Champions League.
The scenario will suit Atleti down to the ground, and we like their chances of soaking up pressure and going through with some comfort. With Juve [1.71] to win in 90 minutes, the Asian handicap market appeals, with Atlético +0.5 & +1.0 an attractive pick at close to even money.
Morata looking to haunt former club
As ever, Antoine Griezmann will be the key attacking figure for the away side, but we also like the look of his expected strike partner, Álvaro Morata, on the goalscorer markets. The former Chelsea man is growing in confidence - he has three goals in five starts for Los Colchoneros - and will be more motivated than most against his old employers. He is [4.5] to find the net.
Jack Lang's Champions League P/L, 2018/19
Back Atlético +0.5 & +1.0 at [1.97]