Is it CR7 time? Who leaves Turin with a win?

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Juventus and Ajax for a spot in the semifinals

Both teams enter this leg at 1-1 on aggregate. If you follow my pieces regularly, you’ll find this one to be much shorter, there just hasn’t been enough time between games. My players to watch haven’t changed, so if you are interested in those — check out last week’s leg one post.

Juventus is Turin-bound and need to defend their home stadium

Juventus battled their way to a hard fought draw in Amsterdam at Amsterdam Arena. Now, it’s time to bring the second leg home to Turin. They trailed in basically every statistical category but still, somehow, ended up with a draw.

Last Champions League game:

Juventus managed a draw, but in the end I think their goal came against the run of play and was very fortuitous. Juventus only recorded one shot on goal the entire game (though Douglas Costa did manage to rattle the frame). In spite of that they held off an Ajax team who statistically looked much better. And of course their one goal game from one of our Players to Watch, but since it’s Ronaldo, I’m not going to take too much credit for calling it correctly.

Highs:

  • One shot on target, one goal. Doesn’t get much more accurate than that!
  • Juventus’ goalkeeper had to make a bunch of saves but only allowed one goal to trickle in.
  • Juventus had a huge advantage in aerials won, with nearly 70%. They recorded 8 more won than Ajax.
  • Bentancur was an absolute midfield general, everything seemed to go through him. For my money he was by far the best Juventus player on the pitch.

Lows:

  • They were outshot by a huge margin, both in on- and off- target attempts.
  • The only statistical category they won was in shots blocked (they recorded 4) and shots off the frame. They need to be more productive, especially with the number of shots they are allowing.
  • They hardly saw any of the ball, about 40% which is probably part of why Ajax ended up with so many shots.
  • Juventus really lucked into tying this game up. Onana had a really poor game, and they can’t expect him to play so poorly again.

Ajax will need to rely on youth to advance

Ajax have got to be asking themselves what happened in the first leg. They were so much better on possession, shots, passing success, corners, and even forced 5 saves. But somehow they left only on top by one goal. A few days later they were forced to endure injury scare (seemingly hamstring) to young playmaker Frankie de Jong, who seems to be ok.

Last Champions League game:

There are some highs and some lows that accompany the first leg against .

Highs:

  • Frankie de Jong, only 21 years old and was tasked with Ronaldo. He did a fantastic job, he produced multiple key passes, seemed to make every goal pass he attempted.
  • Ajax absolutely dominated leg one against Juventus, they were unlucky to only have scored one.
  • Ajax shutdown the rampant scoring of Juventus by only allowing 1 shot and 1 goal.
  • They kept 60% of the possession which kept the ball away from the attackers.

Lows:

  • Despite Frankie de Jong’s brilliant overall performance, Ronaldo just disregarded him en route to his goal. But that’s really the only low on an otherwise brilliant day.
  • With the domination of shots both on and off goal, Ajax really needs to convert their opportunities better.
  • Onana has a horrible game for the side making zero saves and allowing the equalizer, though I don’t anticipate this lack of form continuing.
  • They made a meal of possession but weren’t able to convert it into anything.

What to expect in this Champions League game:

I expect both sides to ratchet up a notch in this one. Juventus really need to show up to this one, and I think they’ll answer the call in Turin amidst their home fans. I don’t think the shots on goal numbers will have anywhere near the delta they are currently showing. Several of Juventus good players (including Mandzukic) had substandard games. I think both sides are going to be attacking all out trying to advance, and I think both sides will be forced to make some good saves. This should be an action packed game as both sides fight for their lives.

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Last Updated: April 15, 2019

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