Who’s nervous? Tottenham Hotspur host Juventus in the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie at Wembley Stadium today, and while Spurs would appear to have the upper hand, there are a number of key players back for the Italian champions.
Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri said in a press conference yesterday that, in addition to Blaise Matuidi in midfield, both Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala could start for La Vecchia Signora.
“Although Higuain has been training separately for a while, he’s trained with the team for the last two days. As for Dybala, he recovered well from his first game back against Lazio at the weekend, he’s a young man, 24 years old.
“The fact that this is such a huge game and such a great game, you want to play in a game like that, even if you’re not in tip top shape. I see no reason why they cannot play. Douglas Costa could well play too.”
Higuain, as we know, scored twice in the opening nine minutes in Turin, later shanked a shot at an open goal, and also missed a penalty kick before Spurs came back to draw 2-2. Dybala was injured for the first leg, but the Argentine striker has been one of Juventus’ key players this season, scoring 18 goals in all competitions thus far.
Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon acknowledged the challenge ahead of Juventus who must either win at Wembley in front of a massive pro-Tottenham crowd or earn a 3-3 or greater draw in order to advance. Buffon noted that while Spurs appear to be heading downhill, Juventus could use that to their advantage.
“When Juventus are wounded or we have our backs to the wall, it spurs us on. It will be an uphill battle but sometimes you can get caught out if it’s all downhill all the way. It’s obvious there is a certain amount of pessimism after the first leg. One false step with Juventus and people start to fear the worst or criticize us. But we are capable of playing the right game.
“Spurs like to attack but by the same token they have a style of play which sometimes allows the opposition a few chances. It will be very even. The team that has the best clinical edge will be the team that goes through.”
Mauricio Pochettino has already implied that Spurs will not sit back and try and earn a low-scoring draw, but will come out attacking to try and beat Juventus in England. That implies that, like in Turin, there will be goals in today’s match. It could make for a highly entertaining game.