Juventus To Face Atletico Madrid in Champions League Round of 16

It might not offer the most impressive technical football in Round 16 of the Champions League. There’s something amazingly intriguing about the match between Juventus and Atletico Madrid when they clash in the first leg on Wednesday evening.

Juventus vs Atletico Madrid

These two elite teams in the competition have both been defeated finalists on two occasions. Juventus are losing to Real Madrid and Barcelona in 2017 and 2015, and Atletico Madrid is falling to Real Madrid in 2016 and 2014. However, that status, and the fact that both Massimiliano Allegri and Diego Simeone are struggling to finish another evolution within their clubs shouldn’t hide the fact that both teams have been punching way above their weight classes recently. Juventus transformed Series A into a parade and Atletico Madrid converting the big two for Spain into a big three.

Both teams have managed to achieve success thanks to clever tactics and disciplined defending, and in an era where Europe’s elite clubs are obsessed with delivering attractive football, these two teams manage to place the result above the scene.

While Atletico Madrid is forced to be more proactive within La Liga, they are less concerned about scoring goals and more focused on keeping a clean sheet when it comes to the knockout stages of the Champions League. When playing against technical-minded opponents, defending deep usually does the trick, with Atletico Madrid refusing to let anyone disband their low block. However, against Juventus, their practical approach could prove fatal.

Christiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic

Juventus is somewhat of a throwback when it comes to the threat they pose in the penalty box. Most elite sides no longer provide an aerial specialist. However, Juventus currently has two. The arrival of Christiano Ronaldo has allowed Juventus to place him in the same team as Mario Mandzukic, allowing Juventus to become a fearsome opponent once the ball is out full.

The journey to Madrid is unique for both these players. Christiano Ronaldo will undoubtedly be booed as a legend for Real Madrid, while Mario Mandzukic only wore the colors of Atletico Madrid for a single season before he decided to switch over to Juventus. Even if you take that connection away, they will still be considered key players in this match.

Juventus rarely field a 4-4-2 system. It usually includes a 4-3-1-2 system, but they like to take a hybrid approach on the pitch where Mario Mandzukic will act as a wide midfielder when he doesn’t have the ball and a second striker when the motors forward, usually getting into the penalty box quite late. Together, these two players form a fantastic duo where Ronaldo needs other players to do his running and defense work, while Mario Mandzukic maximizes the ability of other players. He is never the football star on the pitch, but usually the center-forward for a very successful side. This will all have a huge role to play on Wednesday evening.