Champions League: Juventus vs. Barcelona Odds
|Barcelona Odds||+163 [BET NOW]|
|Juventus Odds||+170 [BET NOW]|
|Draw||+240 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-124/+100) [BET NOW]|
|Time||Wednesday, 4 p.m. ET|
Cristiano Ronaldo has yet again tested positive for COVID-19, meaning he will not be able to play in Juventus’ Wednesday match against Lionel Messi and Barcelona. So while the soccer world is deprived of the two greatest players of this generation, and maybe ever, sharing the same pitch for 90 minutes, Wednesday’s match will go a long way toward determining the winner of Group G come December.
Both Juve and Barca rolled past their opening two opponents, with Juventus beating Dynamo Kiev, 2-0, and Barca crushing Ferencváros, 5-1, last Tuesday. While both teams have had an excellent start to European competition this fall, both are struggling mightily within their domestic leagues and have been for many months now.
Wednesday’s matchup may feature two of the biggest name brand teams in the world, neither is among the world’s elite based on current quality.
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Barcelona’s 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinal in August opened the world’s eyes into the defensive and midfield frailties of their aging side. The underlying numbers had been extremely concerning for Barca prior to that match, and the expected goals numbers are still concerning to date.
Through five matches in La Liga, the Catalonians rank ninth in non-penalty xG difference, and are a mid table side defensively. They lost to Real Madrid in El Clasico at the weekend, lost to Getafe prior to that and settled for a home draw with Sevilla prior to the international break.
Madrid generated 3.21 xG in a game on Saturday that appeared more like basketball with teams trading attacks than soccer, with neither midfield able to gain any control of the match. I have concerns about what a post-Messi Barcelona may look like.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is an advanced statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as luck or outstanding goalkeeping.
As bad as Barcelona have been of late, Juventus might be even worse. COVID-19 outbreak aside, their attack has struggled to generate much of anything throughout the start of the Serie A season, and their nine-year run of winning the title is in peril. Juve, in games against Crotone, Roma and Verona, has had three consecutive draws, scoring four and allowing four goals. Their defense still ranks fourth in xGA, but their attack is 10th in xGF and they haven’t played any of the top defenses in the league to this point.
Juve without Ronaldo is an even bigger concern when you look at their 2019-20 numbers. Paulo Dybala is currently out of favor at the club under new manager Andrea Pirlo, and did not start for them in last week’s CL match or the Serie A match at the weekend. Ronaldo created 19.52 npxG in 2019-20, and striker Gonzalo Higuain was second with 10.09 npxG.
Ronaldo is unavailable, Higuain plays for Inter Miami in MLS and Dybala may not start. There’s not a ton of established goal scoring and chance creating talent after those three in this front line. They signed Dejan Kulusevsky from Parma and have turned to Alvaro Morata up top, but I’m not convinced by either as long term options.
Juventus vs. Barcelona Best Bet
It’s hard to bet on either team in this matchup given the current form, but I have more faith in the goal-scoring options that Barca have with Messi, Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho. Because of this, and my projection of Barcelona as marginally better than Juventus, even away from home, I’ll take Barca to grab all three points here.
I project Barcelona ML at +125, so there’s some value on them being shown at +164 here. Because I don’t trust them to win, I’ll take them as a toss-up on the two-way line.
The Bet: Barcelona PK (-110)