Champions League Betting – Juve Host Bayern in Star-studded Round of 16
Bayern Munich (+150) at Juventus (+222), Draw (+230)
Italian flair meets German efficiency as Bayern Munich take on Juventus at Juventus Stadium in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 (Tuesday, February 23, at 2:45 PM Eastern).
First-place group finishers Bayern Munich have been in form all season and their two big recruits, winger Douglas Costa and box-to-box midfielder Arturo Vidal (a former Juventus star), have proved to be amazing additions to the team. Domestically, they have a comfortable lead in the Bundesliga (18-2-1, 56 points), sitting eight points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund. And, on paper, there is perhaps no better roster in the world right now other than star-studded Barcelona.
Juventus, on the other hand, had a disastrous start to the season; in Serie A – a league they dominated the previous year by seventeen points – Juve were sitting eleventh through ten weeks and had just three wins.
But that was then.
In a comeback for the ages, Juventus (18-3-4, 57 points) went on to win their next fifteen straight games, slipping back into first place after dethroning Napoli last week (1-0).
This should worry Bayern Munich. With defenders Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber ruled out for the game, the Germans will have a severely diminished backline. And while they have continued to dominate the Bundesliga through the injury woes, they have not had to defend against a team of Juventus’ calibre. Facing an attack that includes Paul Pogba, Mario Mandzukic, Alvaro Morata, and Paulo Dybala, the Bavarians have their work cut out for them.
Juve‘s defense will have to contend with an even heftier crop of superstars, though; Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller, Thiago Alcantara, and Douglas Costa comprise one of the most ferocious attacks in club football. Juventus will have to find a balance between exploiting a weakened Bayern defense and defending against a stronger-than-ever Bayern attack.
In an ideal world, these two teams would face off at a much later stage of the Champions League. Based on their recent form, they are probably the two sides most likely to give defending champion Barcelona a run for the title. But it’s not to be.
Juventus’ disastrous start in the Champions League put them in second place behind Manchester City in the group stage. They’re paying for that now with a Round of 16 matchup against Bayern. Juve have found their form, but it won’t be enough to overcome Bayern Munich.
Pick: Bayern Munich (+150).
[Photo credit: André Zehetbauer from Schwerin, Deutschland (Hertha-Bayern 2-1) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.]