Juventus look to win what could prove to be a key match in the Champions League Group H as they host French side Lyon.
Back in December, a key loss in Seville coupled with a come-from-behind win by Manchester City relegated Juventus to second place in their group and to eventually draw Bayern Munich, and elimination thereafter.
An eventual win at the JStadium will not guarantee Allegri’s men a sure placement in first place, but it will certainly well place on the road to achieve it.
“Tomorrow we must absolutely not ruin what we did in Lyon. They’re coming from a nice away win, playing well”, Allegri stated in the pre-match press conference, underlining the importance of this match.
On October 18, the two sides squared off in Lyon where Juventus responded to the audacious task of taking all the three points available that day. Lyon (which hadn’t lost a game at home when playing in a 3-5-2 formation) mirrored Juventus’ 3-5-2 formation and gave Juventus a tough time which called for an outstanding performance by Gianluigi Buffon, who showed the world that he’s arguably the best goalkeeper in the world. On the night, Buffon saved a penalty shot by Lacazette (who had just returned from injury), a point blank save, and a miraculous save from a Bonucci deflection.
“Gigi is an extraordinary player who has demonstrated over the last 20 years to be the best”, Allegri said about his numero uno. He will certainly be looking for a less busy night on Buffon’s end.
The Matchday 3 encounter in Lyon was also characterized by some officiating decisions that did not favour the bianconeri. Besides the aforementioned penalty shot on a foul called on Bonucci who danced with Diakhaby in closed position (holding and pulling for both players); there were several generous yellow cards awarded to Lemina, who was sent off for an early shower, leaving his team mates in 10 men to try to achieve what seemed an unlikely victory.
And so it was.
Juan Cuadrado, fulfilling the typical “super sub” role came on to even the man disadvantage (thanks to his dribbling ability), and scored a fabulous goal to put Juventus ahead.
Juventus has played Lyon 3 times in European competition, the other two in the 2014-15 Europa League. Juventus has beaten Lyon on all three occasions – the last one at the JStadium was a 2-1 victory that featured goals by Pirlo, Briand and an own goal by Utmiti. Here are the highlights from that match:
Pre-Game Press Conference Notable Quotes:
“It’s up to the players to deliver a good performance and treat the fans to a place in the Champions League knockout rounds. Our focus is fully on this game” – Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus coach
“I’ve been lucky enough to play in the Champions League for years now. It’s a top competition and one we want to win. Scoring on Saturday [vs Napoli] was a unique feeling. My job is to score goals but also to give my all for the team” – Gonzalo Higuain, Juventus striker
“We know precisely where Juve’s qualities lie and we go into this game looking to take our chances. I’ve faith in my players, we can take a lot of heart from our win on Saturday and I don’t see why we can’t replicate our performance in that victory against Toulouse” – Bruno Genesio, Olympique Lyonnaise coach
“Tomorrow will be a difficult match. We’re playing against the Serie A leaders and a side brimming with Champions League experience. Nonetheless, we’ll give everything we’ve got and do our utmost to put Juventus under pressure.” – Maxime Gonalons, Olympique Lyonnaise midfielder
Projected Line Ups:
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri revealed that Khedira and Marchisio will feature for sure. Missing out on this key encouter will be Lemina, suspended in the last match, and the injured Chiellini, Dybala and Pjaca. The choice up front is clear: Higuain and Mandzukic are the only two healthy senior squad members. Olympique Lyonnais will be without Jallet and Valbuena. Let’s hazard a guess at the starting line ups:
Juventus (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Benatia; Dani Alves, Khedira, Marchisio, Sturaro, Alex Sandro; Higuain, Mandzukic.
Olympique Lyonnais (3-5-2): Lopes; Mammana, Nkoulou, Diakhaby; Rafael, Darder, Gonalons, Tolisso, Rybus; Fekir, Lacazette.