Juventus take on Manchester United at the Allianz Stadium in Group H on Wednesday, having won the away game at Old Trafford 0-1, courtesy of a Paulo Dybala goal. The italians dominated the first half in England, ridiculizing Mourinho’s side but in the second half, United woke up and gave Juve a hard time. It was only the excellence of Bonucci and Chiellini that kept United out of the game.
The Italian giants have one of the best squads in the world and they significantly strenghened over the summer, bringing in five times Ballon D’or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, ex-player Bonucci and highly rated right back Cancelo. Juventus is in a way what Manchester United used to be under Ferguson and what Mourinho is trying to get them back to.
Even so, Manchester United took the game to Juve in the second half at Old Trafford. If Mourinho’s men can start the game well on Wednesday and the likes of Pogba, Martial and Matic are on the top of their game, we could have a fantastic fixture on our hands. Mourinho was born for the big stage and the Champions League is *the* biggest of stages at club level. He will have solid tactics prepared to contain Juve and try to hurt them on the other side. Manchester United have done quite well in big games ever since Mourinho joined.
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That being said, Juve do boast the likes of Ronaldo and Dybala and could very well obliterate the current United defence. Apart from the world class David De Gea and Lindelof’s calmness, the other three have not quite been up to Manchester United standards. Whoever starts as striker will have a hard time against the defensive rocks Chiellini and Bonucci. Pjanic has been brilliantly reinvented in the Pirlo role in recent years and world cup winner Matuidi is the engine midfield Manchester United will need to turn off if they hope to get a result.
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In 1996, Juventus beat Ferguson’s side by the score of 1-0 home and away. At that time, the United team was inexperienced in Europe. In 97, United won 3-2 at home and lost 1-0 in Italy. Then followed a 1-1 draw and 2-3 away win for Manchester United in Turin as Ferguson went on to win his first treble and Champions League. United also won the next two including a famous 3-0 win in Italy in 2003, courtesy of a Ryan Giggs double and a Nistelrooy goal. All this to say that United could learn from their defeat at Old Trafford to take the game to Juve and if they fail in doing so, their young players will have learnt a valuable Champions League lesson for the future.
Fans and neutrals will hope the group of death brings us another enthralling game of football on Wednesday.
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