Manchester United v Juventus, Tuesday 23rd October, 20:00
Why do we have to fall behind to go forwards?
Jose Mourinho finally delivered a positive result for us at Stamford Bridge and though Ross Barkley’s last gasp equalizer put a damper on things, the second-half performance was much better than we’ve been treated to recently.
However, much like against Newcastle prior to the international break, it required failing behind to provide the impetus for attacking endeavour.
Meanwhile, Juve have made an excellent start to the season, winning 10 of 11 matches, with their stalemate against Genoa at the weekend most likely a blip with one eye on this clash.
With that in mind, we’re not expecting the ever-cautious Mourinho to release the handbrakes unless Massimiliano Allegri’s side take the lead.
The Old Lady have opened the scoring in five of their last seven Champions League fixtures, despite facing strong opposition for the most part, even doing so at the Bernabeu and Wembley against Real Madrid and Spurs respectively.
By contrast, we’ve conceded first in three of our last four Champions League matches where there was at least one goal, with the three sides (Basel, CSKA Moscow and Sevilla) below the standards of the Old Lady.
While we expect Juve to draw first blood, they’re not quite the same defensive force of yesteryear with Gigi Buffon now at PSG, while other key pillars have aged since then – in particular 34-year-old Giorgi Chiellini and 37-year old Andrea Barzagli.
Leonardo Bonucci and Medhi Benatia are hardly young snips at 31 either, and with pace from the bench Juventus/Draw half-time/full-time offers the chance of a big payout.
Spurs achieved this against the Old lady last term after Gonzalo Higuain had put them two ahead after just 10 minutes, and with Anthony Martial stepping up his performances and Alexis Sanchez the type of character to hustle opponents, that’s a realistic possibility.
Indeed, Mourinho has demonstrated he still has some of the old magic with in-game switches against Newcastle and Chelsea, and walking away with a useful point could leave him in a buoyant mood.
CR7 and Paul Pogba face former clubs
There are various sub plots to this encounter, most obviously the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba face their former employees, though it’s interesting to throw Mourinho into the mix here too.
The Portuguese duo never really saw eye to eye in Madrid as the coach demands tactical discipline from attackers in the wide areas, as he did with Eden Hazard at Chelsea, while the most technically gifted and creative players tend to thrive when released from some of the defensive burdens placed upon them.
Indeed, many Juve fans will look upon the markedly inconsistent performances from Pogba with bemusement following a successful spell in Italy a few years ago.
United fan and former WBA World Lightweight Champion Anthony Crolla gave us his thoughts ahead of tonight’s clash.
*all odds are subject to change