We will see half of the Champions League Semifinals determined on Tuesday night. Juventus and Barcelona were both favored to advance before the first leg of their ties, but while Barcelona did what they needed to do against Manchester United, Juventus had to settle for a draw against Ajax and are in a bit of a precarious position. Both Juventus and Barcelona are still favored to advance, but while Barca are heavy favorites to go through, Juventus are just moderate favorites.
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Juventus Turin -0.5 and -1 vs. Ajax Amsterdam, O/U 2.5
This is what Cristiano Ronaldo was brought to Juventus to do. Ronaldo is the all-time Champions League leader in goals, and he was the man of the match for the Italian side in the first leg of this tie. Just before the end of the first half, he made a brilliant run through Ajax’s defense and headed in a nice Joao Cancelo cross to put Juventus up 1-0.
That lead didn’t last long. Not more than a minute after the break, Ajax responded in kind when David Neres bent home an equalizer to level the match at one apiece. It ended there, and while it was a disappointing result for the hosts, they had to be encouraged with their play.
Once again, the young guns of Ajax largely controlled the run of play against one of the juggernauts of Europe. Ajax had to be emboldened after their stunning defeat of Real Madrid in the Round of 16, and Juventus fans must be somewhat concerned after watching the Dutch side on Wednesday. Ajax had the majority of possession, outshot Juventus 19 to 7, and registered six shots on goal compared to just one for the Italian club.
Neres was the man of the match for Ajax with his brilliant goal, but most of the forwards and midfielders played well. Hakim Ziyech created some good opportunities, Dusan Tadic was solid up front, and Donny van de Beek nearly gave Ajax another goal. Like they did in their first leg against Real Madrid, they just couldn’t convert on those chances.
Wojciech Szczesny made some great saves in the first leg, and Juventus need the defense to stiffen and offense to come from someone other than Ronaldo in the second leg.
Although Nicolas Tagliafico will miss the match due to a yellow card suspension, I think Ajax have a great chance to pull off another upset and send Juventus crashing out.
FC Barcelona -1 and -1.5 vs. Manchester United, O/U 3
Manchester United were in an even worse situation in the Round of 16. The Red Devils lost their first leg against Paris Saint-Germain by a score of 2-0, but they overcame all doubters to advance after a 3-1 win in Paris in the second leg.
The first leg between these two sides was somewhat even. Barcelona controlled two-thirds of possession like they usually do, but Manchester United managed more shots than the visitors and just couldn’t convert. The game’s lone goal came early when a Luis Suarez header at close range deflected off of Luke Shaw and past David De Gea.
Although they have one less goal to overcome, this is a more difficult situation for United. They have been dealing with a number of injuries, and they have to make sure to play their starters in league play too on Saturday. Barcelona can rest their best players after essentially locking up La Liga with a win over Atletico Madrid last weekend, so they will be well-rested and ready. I see Barcelona winning by multiple goals in a rather one-sided affair.
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