Juventus’ 2021/22 Champions League campaign continues on Tuesday night as they travel to Spain for the first leg of their round of 16 tie against Villarreal.
The Bianconeri have suffered back-to-back humiliations at this stage of Europe’s premier club competition and they’ll be looking to qualify for the quarter-finals for the first time since 2019 – where they were beaten by Matthijs de Ligt’s Ajax. Juve’s recent European failure has depicted their demise from powerhouse to borderline mediocrity, but there’s hope that they’re on the incline once more following a stellar January transfer window.
However, they head into Tuesday’s bout off the back of a worrying 1-1 draw in the Derby della Mole. Massimiliano Allegri’s side were second best for much of Friday night’s game with the manager’s ideals once again coming under scrutiny.
Such a performance won’t suffice if they’re to avoid further continental embarrassment in Iberia. Unai Emery’s Villarreal are up to fifth in La Liga following a poor start to the season and they’ll be confident of picking off a depleted Old Lady in this week’s first leg.
Villarreal vs Juventus preview
Here’s our preview of Tuesday night’s Champions League round of 16 clash between Villarreal and Juventus.
How to Watch Villarreal vs Juventus
When is kick-off? Tuesday 22 February
What time is kick-off? 20:00 (BST)
Where is it played? Estadio de la Cerámica
TV channel/live stream? BT Sport 3 (UK), Paramount+ (US)
Villarreal Team News
Villarreal suffered in Gerard Moreno’s absence during the first half of the season but they have fared much better in recent weeks with the Spanish forward currently sidelined. He’ll miss the first leg against the Bianconeri with Boulaye Dia poised to lead the line for the Yellow Submarine.
Dia should be flanked by Saturday’s hat-trick hero Arnaut Danjuma and electric Nigerian Samuel Chukwueze.
Francis Coquelin and Ruben Pena will miss Tuesday’s contest with Etienne Capoue an injury doubt. Giovani Lo Celso’s fitness is also a cause of concern after the Argentine picked up a knock in the 4-1 victory over Granada.
Juventus Team News
An injury crisis has hit the Bianconeri ahead of the Champions League knockout stages. Paulo Dybala, Daniele Rugani and Luca Pellegrini all picked up knocks in (and before) Friday’s Derby della Mole and all three are expected to miss Tuesday’s trip to Spain.
However, Dybala could make Max Allegri’s bench after tests revealed that the Argentine hadn’t suffered any muscular damage.
Nevertheless, with Rugani joining Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci on the sidelines, Danilo should start alongside Matthijs de Ligt at centre-back.
The manager may switch back to the 4-4-2 for Tuesday’s game with Juan Cuadrado joining the midfield. Alvaro Morata and Dusan Vlahovic could start as the strike pairing with Mattia De Sciglio and Alex Sandro poised to start at full-back.
Villarreal vs Juventus Predicted Lineups
Villarreal: Asenjo; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Pedraza; Trigueros, Capoue, Parejo; Chukwueze, Dia, Danjuma.
Juventus: Szczesny; De Sciglio, Danilo, De Ligt, Alex Sandro; Cuadrado, Locatelli, Zakaria, McKennie; Morata, Vlahovic.
Villarreal’s Recent Form
Granada 1-4 Villarreal (19/02) – La Liga
Villarreal 0-0 Real Madrid (12/02) – La Liga
Real Betis 0-2 Villarreal (06/02) – La Liga
Villarreal 3-0 Mallorca (22/01) – La Liga
Elche 1-0 Villarreal (16/01) – La Liga
Juventus’ Recent Form
Juventus 1-1 Torino (18/02) – Serie A
Atalanta 1-1 Juventus (13/02) – Serie A
Juventus 2-1 Sassuolo (10/02) – Coppa Italia
Juventus 2-0 Hellas Verona (06/02) – Serie A
AC Milan 0-0 Juventus (23/01) – Serie A
I think this could be a very tough watch for Juventini, but such dreariness has become the norm under Massimiliano Allegri.
With Paulo Dybala missing, the Juve boss will surely set up his side in a 4-4-2 and attempt to contain the technically proficient hosts. The Bianconeri will sit in their block and seek to counter-attack – despite the absence of elite transitional threats.
Thus, Juve are primed to fail on Tuesday against a Villarreal side that are on the up in 2022. Their threat from wide areas is distinct and, unlike the visitors, they possess several destructive outlets capable of hurting the Bianconeri. The hosts will be able to keep the ball for lengthy periods – as a result of their technical quality and willingness to press high – in this one, and I think their sustained pressure will eventually tell.
The match-ups out wide particularly favour the Yellow Submarine.
Prediction: Villarreal 1-0 Juventus