After watching Juventus drop yet more points in Serie A at the weekend, the thought of the Champions League knockout stages is a scary thought for many Juventino.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side continue to falter on the domestic front with the manager’s principles once again coming into question as Juve were pegged back by the newly-promoted Venezia on Saturday evening.
Nevertheless, they enter Monday’s Champions League round of 16 draw as group winners. A forgettable 1-0 victory over Malmo combined with Chelsea’s 3-3 draw with Zenit on Matchday 6 was enough to see the Old Lady win Group H with the Blues slipping down to second.
In the last two years, we’ve seen Juventus top their respective group before falling at the first hurdle to supposedly inferior opposition. Those Lyon and Porto defeats are symbolic of the Old Lady’s recent malaise and there’s no doubting that Allegri’s side are capable of slipping up against anyone they face in Europe next spring.
The Bianconeri have six potential opponents for the round of 16, and here’s a ranking of all of them – from ‘best’ to worst draw.
The most favourable draw for Juventus is probably Salzburg. The Austrian giants finished runners-up behind Lille in Group G after claiming a 1-0 victory over Sevilla on Matchday 6.
Recently, we’ve seen the likes of Sadio Mane, Dominik Szoboszlai, Naby Keita and, of course, Erling Braut Haaland graduate from the Salzburg school, and it appears a new superstar is emerging for Die Roten Bullen.
Karim Adeyemi enjoyed a stellar group stage campaign, scoring three times, and has quickly been put on the radars of Europe’s elite. The German teenager is their brightest star and will surely earn a big move away very soon.
Nevertheless, the traditional Red Bull principles shouldn’t be overlooked. They’re the foundations of Salzburg’s recent European rise. The combination of fierce counter-pressing and high-octane vertical possession play often makes for spectacular viewing, but they’re often picked off against more shrewd and astute opponents.