Punters have rushed to back Juventus to secure a fairy-tale Champions League win after stunning Tottenham with a magnificent second-half fight back in midweek.
Juventus trailed 3-2 on aggregate with 40 minutes remaining, but Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala capitalised on defensive lapses from Spurs and drove their team into the quarter-finals. Legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says this will be his last season at the club – unless they win the Champions League. It was looking bleak at half-time at Wembley on Wednesday night, but their comeback has sparked fresh optimism among fans.
Juventus have since become fifth-favourites to win the Champions League, although Man Utd could move ahead of them in the betting if they beat Sevilla. Most bookmakers are now offering 9/1 on Juve winning the tournament, but 188Bet has a market-leading 10/1. That looks tempting, as Juventus’ credentials are strong. They have made two finals in the last three years, leaving them fifth in the UEFA club coefficient rankings. They did lose heavily in both finals, first to Barcelona in 2015 and then to Real Madrid last year, but along the way they secured several impressive results.
They kept two clean sheets to dump Barca out of last year’s competition and brushed aside French champions Monaco. In 2015 they knocked out Real Madrid, so they have shown they can mix it with the Spanish heavyweights, and they need not fear the Premiership contingent, either, after dealing with Tottenham in clinical fashion. For much of the tie, it looked as though the fresher legs and greater energy of Tottenham would prevail, but in the end Juventus’ experience won the day.
Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli have closed out so many famous wins in their time that it almost becomes second nature. The way Juventus closed ranks after going 2-1 up at Wembley was almost a thing of beauty. It was certainly a masterclass in squeezing the life out of a game, as Tottenham barely got a sniff of a goal from that point onwards. They may have lost Leonardo Bonucci in the summer, but Medhi Benatia has now slotted nicely alongside Chiellini, while Alex Sandro on the left is a brilliant player.
Blaise Matuidi returned to the team for the second leg and he provided much needed bite in the middle of the park, but the biggest difference was Dybala. He was missing from the first leg with injury, but returned to bang in the winning goal on Wednesday night with the coolest of finishes. Higuain also scored his third goal of the tie with a typically incisive finish, and that Argentinean duo could well fire Juve to further glory. It is difficult to imagine a more impressive strike partnership in the world, apart from maybe Leo Messi and Luis Suarez at Barcelona.
Previous Juventus teams were built on a strong defence but were found wanting going forwards, but that is no longer the case. Dybala will soon be among the most coveted forwards in world football, while Higuain is outrageously clinical and Mario Mandzukic is a real handful too, as is the rapid Douglas Costa.
They beat a Tottenham team that had already got the better of holders Real Madrid, so they should be full of confidence heading into the quarter-finals. The majority of Champions League futures bets over the past couple of days have gone on Juventus after their famous win, so it might be worth backing them sooner rather than later if you fancy them to land the prize. It would be a real fairy-tale for captain Buffon, who has won everything apart from the Champions League, and will be desperate to lead his team to victory and prolong his glorious career for another year.