Juventus will host Sporting CP in an exciting contest in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday.
The Bianconeri will aim to continue their unbeaten run in Europe’s second-tier competition, but their momentum has taken a hit with their recent struggles at the domestic level.
Sporting have proved they are no slouch after defeating Premier League leaders Arsenal in the previous round. They are looking to make another statement when they face the Italian giants.
In a season plagued by controversies, Juventus will seek vindication by getting their hands on the Europa League trophy.
However, their road to redemption has been hit with a bump after the draw against Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals, followed by a defeat against Lazio in Serie A.
However, Juve will look to build on their impressive home run – unbeaten in the last nine games – against Sporting.
Talisman striker Dusan Vlahovic has come under fire due to his lack of form, and he will be looking for a breakthrough against the Portuguese giants.
Adrien Rabiot will be the go-to guy for Juve, as the French midfielder has been in excellent form this season. He was on the scoresheet in the defeat against the Biancocelesti.
Another bankable asset will be Nicolo Fagioli, who continues to impress in his breakout season.
The Bianconeri academy graduate will once again look to seize the opportunity on the biggest stage this Thursday.
After slaying the Gunners in a high-octane round of 16 encounter, the Portuguese giants are considered one of the dark horses of the tournament.
Possessing a well-drilled unit full of top-class youngsters, manager Ruben Amorim is expected to raise the bar against Juventus on Thursday.
Sporting stretched their unbeaten streak to 11 games across all competitions with a thrilling 4-3 win over Casa Pia in the Primeira Liga last weekend, thanks to a stunning hat-trick from Francisco Trincao.
The player in the spotlight will be Pedro Goncalves, who has been in outstanding form this season.
The 24-year-old’s wonder strike against the Gunners – a contender for the goal of the season – proved decisive in the last round – and he also bagged a goal and two assists against Casa Pia on Sunday.
Apart from long-term absentee Paul Pogba, Juventus have no injury concerns heading into Thursday’s tie.
They will likely field the same eleven used against Lazio, with Vlahovic and Angel Di Maria leading the attack.
Sporting will be without Jovane Cabral and Paulino through injury, but Hector Bellerin is available after recovering from injury.
Juventus potential starting line-up
Wojciech Szczesny; Danilo, Gleison Bremer, Alex Sandro; Juan Cuadrado, Nicolo Fagioli, Manuel Locatelli, Adrien Rabiot, Filip Kostic; Angel Di Maria; Dusan Vlahovic.
Sporting CP potential starting line-up
Antonio Adan; Ousmane Diomande, Sebastian Coates, Jeremiah St. Juste; Ricardo Esgaio, Pedro Goncalves, Hidemasa Morita, Matheus Reis; Marcus Edwards, Youseff Chermiti, Francisco Trincao.
We Say: Juventus 3-1 Sporting CP
The quality of the two teams makes for an enthralling contest on Thursday. However, Sporting’s poor record against Italian teams – no victories in the last 15 outings – could work to Juve’s advantage.
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