2017/18 Champions League Group D tips: Juventus odds appeal over Barcelona bets
FootyOn give 2017/18 Champions League Group D tips, with Juventus odds taken instead of Barcelona bets to top this pool.
It’s a rare enough thing to see two giants of European football both lose key players in the same summer.
Not only were Barcelona put in the shade in Spain’s La Liga last term, but El Clasico rivals Real Madrid have won three of the last four Champions League competitions.
Mega-rich French Ligue 1 outfit PSG are bankrolled by Qatari petrodollars and that enticed Brazil superstar Neymar away from the Nou Camp.
While UEFA are investigating the record £200,000,000 transfer, it doesn’t change the fact this has hurt Barca.
Not only have they failed to replace playmaker Xavi Hernandez long-term and lost Neymar, but the Catalan giants are under new management.
Ernesto Valverde is another name familiar with the surroundings in Barcelona, but issues are mounting behind the scenes.
Barca enter Champions League Group D as odds-on favourites to come out on top of a pool that contains dominant Italian Serie A champions Juventus, Portuguese heavyweights Sporting Lisbon and Greek Super League winners Olympiakos.
Issues at Barca mean they’re one to avoid
A vote of no confidence has been tabled against Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu after his failure to retain Neymar and sign compatriot Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool as a replacement.
Bodies have been brought in, but re-signing Gerard Deulofeu from Everton and splashing €105,000,000 on Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund are full of caveats.
Neither is a proven and reliable goalscorer, nor can you say this pair are consistent performers.
The addition of Brazil’s box-to-box midfielder Paulinho – once of Spurs and a talented wasted out in China – suggests some dynamism will be injected into a Barca midfield that used to be about gliding guile under Pep Guardiola and a more prosaic approach during Luis Enrique’s tenure.
Portugal full back Nelson Semedo has been bought from Benfica, meanwhile, as the Catalans seek a long-term successor to Dani Alves.
Barcelona bets, much like the club at the moment, just don’t look a sensible investment at short prices.
Valverde has plenty to sort out on the field, while off it Barca need unity.
For those reasons, it is wiser to look at Juventus odds of 6/4 with BetVictor in Group D’s outright betting.
Juventus odds have a lot more going for them
Massimiliano Allegri’s team haven’t got through the summer unscathed, however, as the Old Lady boss was prepared to part with defender Leonardo Bonucci.
A bit like Chelsea selling Nemanja Matic to Premier League rivals Manchester United, many in Turin are still scratching their heads over Allegri allowing old club AC Milan to buy Bonucci.
Neymar’s Nou Camp exit proves every player has his price, but did Juve need to sell the youngest of their long-standing defensive trio?
Together with Andrea Barzagli and dark arts master Giorgio Chiellini, Bonucci won six successive Scudetti (Serie A titles for those of you who don’t speak Italian).
While it remains to be seen if this departure is a decisive factor in an end to Juventus’ domestic dominance, Allegri has previous for making mistakes of this nature.
Azzurri playmaker Andrea Pirlo was Italy’s answer to Spanish contemporary Xavi – a metronome that didn’t need to be mobile to dictate proceedings in the engine rom.
Allegri’s error in letting Pirlo leave Milan on a free for Turin in 2011 came back to haunt him.
Even if Bonucci is history repeating itself, though at least money and a player going the other way (Mattia De Sciglio) was involved this time, it doesn’t look as detrimental to Juve as Neymar leaving Barcelona does.
Bonucci departure covered
Damage limitation exists with the Old Lady, who have brought World Cup winner Benedikt Howedes in on loan from Bundesliga club Schalke.
Daniele Rugani, meanwhile, remains well-regarded for the future and has been learning his craft from Chiellini, Barzagli and Bonucci before the latter’s departure.
Morocco international Mehdi Benatia has also made a permanent transfer to Turin from Bayern Munich, while Allegri and Juventus’ board stood firm over their stance on left back Alex Sandro.
Business elsewhere looks smarter than Barca too. Blasie Matuidi brings ball-winning ability and a knack for starting moves off from deep with him from PSG.
Out wide, meanwhile, Douglas Costa (loan) and Federico Bernardeschi have the X-factor to bamboozle defences.
Such is the strength-in-depth about Juventus that they can easily play with a back three and wing backs or a four-man defence and wingers.
Allegri also has Argentina duo Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain as a proven and potent partnership up front, plus the physical threat of Mario Mandzukic.
Sporting and Olympiakos are small fry compared to 2015 and 2017 Champions League finalists Juve and Barca, so this pool is a two-horse race.
Juventus odds really do look more attractive than Barcelona bets, so back the Old Lady to belie their recent losing record to the Catalan club and come out on top in Group D.
More from FootyOn
Visit our features section for more in-depth pieces like this.
The FootyOn free bets page has full details on our betting partners.