It was just a week ago that Real Madrid walked into the Allianz Stadium in Turin and took away a commanding 3-0 road victory in the aggregate. Wednesday, Real have the opportunity the close the quarter-final and move on to the next stage of the Champions League. It won’t be easy, but Real have the odds stacked in their favor and have already taken care of business away from home.
Real are coming off a 1-1 draw in the Madrid Derby that took place at the Bernabéu on Sunday. Juventus is coming off a 4-2 road win over Benevento, an afternoon where Paulo Dybala (who will not feature in the 2nd leg) scored a hat trick.
While overconfidence is never a truly wise, this is certainly Real’s match to lose. Juventus will be without one of their top scorers and still have injuries to their roster as well. To top it all off, Real have the luxury of staying at home in front of their crowd after playing on Sunday already.
Real still only have one injury to the roster in Nacho. They do have a suspension for the 2nd leg however; Sergio Ramos will miss out in this match because he picked up a yellow card in the 1st leg while already sitting on one prior.
Juventus will still be without Federico Bernardeschi due to injury. Andrea Barzagli is not listed in Juventus’ roster so he will be out injured. As mentioned before, Juventus has a suspension of their own in Paulo Dybala. He was carded twice in Turin last week and sent off in the 66th minute. Rodrigo Bentancur is also suspended for the 2nd leg. Miralem Pjanic and Medhi Benatia are both coming off of suspension and are in Juventus’ released squad.
Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Vallejo, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Isco, Ronaldo, Benzema
Real’s squad should be similar to the one they featured in Turin for the 1st leg. The biggest change is obviously the absence of captain Sergio Ramos. It was already reported last week that Jesus Vallejo would step in Ramos’ place for this 2nd leg. Modric, Casemiro, and Isco should be slotted back into the starting lineup after starting on the bench against Atlético. Bale, Vasquez, Asensio, and Kovacic are several options to come off the bench.
Buffon; De Sciglio, Benatia, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic; Cuadrado, Costa, Mandzukic, Higuain
Juventus manager Max Allegri could go with several different options here. He may decide to start Stephen Lichtsteiner over Mattia De Sciglio. If he elects to only start two in the midfield, that means they will be focused on all-out attack with four forwards starting. No Paulo Dybala is really going to hurt them, especially because they are in need of several goals.
3-1 Real Madrid-Juventus
Call it a brazen scoring prediction, but Real will be looking to put several nails in the Juventus coffin at the Bernabéu. Real’s backline will be a bit vulnerable without Ramos, which is why they could conceivably concede (one, maybe even two) goals.
Juventus will be looking to score with any chance they get, so it’s important Real holds possession at the very least. Given the history between these two sides in the Champions League, this match may not be very different from the previous bouts. A Ronaldo masterclass can completely be expected after what he’s done in this tournament so far, including that sensational bicycle kick goal in the 1st leg.
With many of the factors in favor of Real, that doesn’t mean they can take this easy. They have to dampen Juventus’ hopes with any chance they get, which means getting on the scoreboard early. Conceding an early goal, especially an away one, will surely give Juventus hope that they can pull of a comeback in Madrid.
This should be a thrilling finale to the quarter-final stage, with Real hopefully advancing through. It’s not going to be easy to close it out perfectly, but if there’s one competition Real shows up for, it’s the Champions League.
HOW TO WATCH, STREAM CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Time: 20:45 CET, 02:45pm EST, 11:45am Pacific.
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.
Available Streaming: FOX Sports GO (USA), Fubo.TV (EVERY Real Madrid game with a high-quality and legal stream, click here to sign up and benefit from a winter discount for new members and Managing Madrid readers).