Sporting Lisbon looked good both offensively and defensively last week in Torino but still lost the match. Juventus have a 1-0 lead thanks to Gatti’s goal in the second half, and their entire season might depend on the second tie in Portugal.
The Old Lady has said goodbye to their Top 4 hopes in Italy after being penalized by the FA and losing two games in the last three rounds. Their only chance to play in the UEFA Champions League next season is by winning this competition. In terms of the latest odds, bookmakers in the UK have tagged the Portuguese side as a warm favorite to win the second leg at 5/4 odds, but To Qualify bet is at 2/1. We should witness another tight tussle at Estadio Jose Alvelade.
Juve’s Poor Shape in Serie A
As mentioned above, Massimiliano Allegri’s side has been struggling domestically in the last couple of weeks. Their amazing series of seven victories in seven rounds was interrupted with a 1-2 loss to Lazio in the Italian capital, followed by another narrow 0-1 defeat last weekend to Sassuolo in Reggio Emilia. Bianconeri are now sitting in 7th place with 44 points from 30 games, and the gap from the top four teams is way too big with eight rounds left to be played. As for the Europa League campaign, the Old Lady had no trouble eliminating Nantes and Freiburg in the previous playoff rounds.
Fans were surely not impressed by the performance in the first tie against Sporting Lisbon. Juventus had only 44% ball possession, 0.83 expected goals (1.89 for the Portuguese side), and just two shots on target. Angel Di Maria was inspired in the previous Europa League rounds, scoring two hat-tricks in the playoffs, but had no impact last week in Torino.
Sporting Lisbon Are Strong At Home
Sporting Lisbon have been out of the title race in Portuguese Primeira Liga for quite some time now, sitting in 4th place with 58 points from 28 matches. Chances to narrow the gap from 3rd placed Braga and compete for UCL Qualifiers are not that great with only seven rounds to go. Ruben Amorim’s side is looking strong at home though, winning 11 of 14 matches in the league, while losing only two contests. They stood shoulder-by-shoulder against Arsenal in the previous Europa League playoff round, eliminating the Gunners on penalties. Interestingly, their last three home games in this competition have seen BTTS, which is currently priced at 1/1 odds. Juventus scored five goals in their last two EL away games.
As for the second option, I will go with a 2-1 correct score in favour of the hosts at 9/1. As mentioned above, Juventus got defeated in their last two Serie A matches, while Sporting’s win rate at home is close to 80% (in Primeira Liga).