the football world blogs

UCL RO16: Juventus hosts Villarreal for the 2nd leg

Juventus will face Villarreal at the Juventus Stadium in the 2021-2022 UEFA Champions League RO16. Juventus are looking to avoid a third consecutive Champions League round of 16, knockout when they draw 1-1 with Villarreal in the first leg. However, Villarreal’s performance in the Champions League was less dramatic; with the previous tie at the El Madrigal, the most likely outcome of the second leg is a low-scoring game. 

With three wins in their last four La Liga matches and a draw against Real Madrid, Villarreal is clearly in the lead right now, which is excellent for them as their next fixture will be against Juventus in the top 16 of the Champions League. Both teams have scored in Juventus’ last three games in all competitions, and both teams have scored in 67% of all Villarreal games in the Champions League group stage. With Villarreal scoring 24 goals in 25 games and Juventus only 23 in 26 games in their league games, both teams have defined their season by their ability to defend. In the UEFA Champions League, the two teams have played a total of 1 match, the 1st leg of the tie. This is the first time these two teams play each other in a tournament. 

Juventus took the lead in the first leg against Villarreal but later, the score was equalised in the second half of the game. Juventus advanced to the next stage after being at the top of Group H with five wins and one loss. They still won Group H by beating Chelsea and winning 5 out of 6 group stage games. In their second group stage match, Juventus also lost 4-0 to Chelsea. Dusan Vlahovic scored in the first minute of his Champions League debut for Juventus. 

However, over the past two seasons, Juventus have lost in the round of 16 under Maurizio Sarri and Andrea Pirlo, with Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri issued a Champions League warning to Villarreal. Unai Emery has guided Villarreal from a group that includes Manchester United, Atalanta and Young Boys to the Champions League knockout stages this season. At the same time, Allegri Juventus joined forces with Malmo Peterborough’s Zenit with Chelsea. They are better than Villarreal and could have closed the scoring in the first leg if Allegri’s conservatism had not paralysed Villarreal in the attack. They showed why this tie would never be as simple as some thought. Meanwhile, Villarreal took the ball in the first leg against Juventus and felt that Villarreal should have gone to Turin with a win.

Villarreal has shown they can bother Juventus with their early pace of possession. They’ve been lucky, and there’s no doubt that Allegri is risking his Champions League status if his first defence approach proves overbearing. Juventus have scored under 3.5 goals in 90% of their home games this season, while Villarreal has scored the same number of goals in 77% of their away matches.