Italian football expert James Horncastle believes that Juventus are a ‘chameleon-like’ side, but they cannot hide the fact that they hate coming to London.
James joined Oisin and Johnny on the line for OTB:AM to preview tonight’s Champions League last-sixteen second leg between Tottenham and the Italian champions.
“This is a place that Juventus hate going – they haven’t won in London in six attempts. They haven’t beaten an English side in a two-legged tie in European competition since 1984. They are making the case that the pressure is on Spurs because Spurs got a better result than Juventus in the first leg.”
On the intriguing aspect of how both teams will set up, James feels that the Old Lady will anticipate Tottenham’s tendency to swashbuckle, and that the Spurs would do well to play a cuter game.
“If [Spurs] come on to them, then that will play into Juventus’ hands. Juventus look at it like this: they played badly for 80 of the 90 minutes of that first leg, and yet they had a chance to go 3-0 up with that counter-attack that Higuain missed, and could have gone 3-1 up when Higuain missed that second penalty in the game. This is going to be a fascinating game between two quite evenly-matched teams.
“I know people look at it saying that Juventus have more experience because they have been to the final in two of the last three years. But if you look at these teams financially, they are more or less the same – Juventus are tenth in the Deloitte rich league, Spurs are eleventh. There is not all that much difference there.”
But the return of players like Blaise Matuidi means that the game at Tottenham’s temporary home is nicely set this evening, pairing a side that swagger in attack to one that defend like the Siege of Rome. Or, rather, Turin.
“What was great about Spurs’ performance three weeks ago was the fact that when they went 2-0 down, they didn’t stop playing their own game. They kept faith with it, because they knew that they would get the chances even against a Juventus side that hadn’t conceded a goal since... 1973, or something! But I think Spurs will remain true to this philosophy that they have – they caused Juventus all kinds of problems that I think they will still cause in this second leg.
“I am very interested to see what Juventus do in this second leg, because Juventus found faith in this 4-3-3 after their last defeat in the league at the end of November. They moved away from that in the first leg because they had injuries. [Blaise] Matuidi was out and he will be back tonight – that’s a big difference for Juventus.”