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Porto v Juventus Tips: Back Ronnie to find the net in his homeland

Porto v Juventus Tips: Back Ronnie to add to his UCL haul in Portugal
Porto v Juventus Tips: Back Ronnie to add to his UCL haul in Portugal

The Champions League reaches the last 16 stage this week, the real business end of the competition after a subdued group phase which didn't have the same impact in empty stadiums. 

There's no doubt that the proposition facing Juventus - a trip to Estadio do Dragao - would be much more fearful in front of an intimidating home crowd and across all of the two legged affairs, it will be fascinating to see just how much 'home' advantage plays a factor behind closed doors and whether empty arenas play a part in away teams being more attack-minded. 

Heading into this tie, Juve find themselves in an unfamiliar fourth position after years of domestic dominance in Serie A so, although they are still very much in the title race, a deep run in Europe will perhaps be welcomed this year above any other. 

In truth though, no matter how many times the Old Lady are tipped each year as a perennial 'dark horse' for the trophy, they haven't lifted the Champions League (or European Cup in old money) for 25 years, an anniversary they will want to mark with glory again in Europe's elite competition. 

Andrea Pirlo will be missing some key players here in the form of the ever-reliable Juan Cuadrado - nowadays deployed in a right-back role - plus Paulo Dybala who takes so much of the attacking burden away from main man Cristiano Ronaldo. Both absences are big blows but this is a deep squad, with Sandro and Alvaro Morata able to step-up at this level as they have shown this season. 

From a Porto perspective, they are also without Otavio - the team's main creative talent – with left-back Zanusi touch and go. The Portuguese outfit, who finished a worthy second behind Manchester City in their group, will still pose a real threat however to a Juventus team struggling to pull away in games this season. Porto have won 11 of their last 18 Champions League games so cannot be taken lightly.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo to Score Anytime – 2.5 units @ 21/20 with WilliamHill
  • Cristiano Ronaldo to Score 2 or More – 1 unit @ 7/1 boosted with WilliamHill
  • Adrian Rabiot to be carded – 2 units @ 7/2 with WilliamHill
Champions League betting
Cristiano Ronaldo to score anytime
21/20
Odds correct as of 2021-02-16 16:35 Odds subject to change.

When you think of all-time greats in the Champions League, one man stands out above them all. The debate around whether Messi or Ronaldo is the better player will always rumble on but when it comes to who has made the bigger mark in Europe, there’s only one winner.

With 134 strikes, Ronaldo is the leading goalscorer in Champions League history by quite some margin. When you delve into the breakdown of his goals, it’s quite extraordinary just how consistent one man can be in such an elite competition and not just in the group stages, with exactly half of his goals coming in the round of 16 or later.

Whilst the numbers for Juventus may not have hit the same heights of his peak years at Real Madrid, Ronaldo has shown that he can still step up to the mark to produce the goods at this level, as his brace in the 3-0 mauling of Barcelona in December showed.

The Juve number 7 will be over every direct set piece like free-kicks around the box and penalties which is always a boost when backing a player to score and in returning to Portugal, I’m sure he will want to stamp his authority against a rival of his boyhood club Sporting Lisbon. Ronaldo has of course scored on this ground before, perhaps one of his best finishes of all time with a 40 yard rocket into the top corner, so Estadio do Dragao holds some good memories for CR7.

Porto are struggling to keep clean sheets this season, having conceded just one less goal at this stage of the Primera Liga (19 matches) than the whole of 2019/20 (34 matches), something that the Portugal international will look to take advantage of.

With 4 goals in 4 in this season’s instalment of the Champions League as well as having recorded a brace or more on 34 separate occasions in Europe, I’m going to back Ronaldo to score anytime and also find the net 2 or more times at 21/20 and 7/1 respectively, the latter boosted under the Enhanced Odds section.

Cristiano Ronaldo to score 2+ goals
7/1
Odds correct as of 2021-02-16 16:35 Odds subject to change.
Today's football tips
Adrian Rabiot to be carded
7/2
Odds correct as of 2021-02-16 16:35 Odds subject to change.

Despite qualifying through the group stages at a canter alongside fellow giants Barcelona, Juventus were certainly not afraid to show their physical side across their opening six matches.

Of the 32 sides in the groups, only 5 conceded more fouls than the Old Lady at an average of 13.8 per game and on Wednesday, that number could well increase against the 3rd most fouled team in this season’s competition.

Being fouled so often, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Porto were the 2nd most carded against team in the group stages (even Manchester City were given 5 on matchday 1 against the Dragons) and their athletic group of players have also drawn plenty of cards from opponents domestically too, standing as the 4th most carded against team in the Portuguese top flight.

The recent trends point to some Juventus cards here, with the Black and Whites picking up 3 and 6 bookings in their last two away fixtures. On the reverse side, Porto’s last 3 opponents have picked up 3 or more cards so don’t be surprised to see the referee Carlos Grande – averaging 5.17 cards per game in non friendly matches this season – flash a few yellows in the Italian side’s direction.

In that light, one man that stands out for me at the prices available is Juve midfielder Adrian Rabiot. The Frenchman gets about the pitch well but he can be very clumsy at times and he’s no stranger to a booking having picked up 8 yellows and a red across all matches this season.

In European games this season, no man has a higher fouls per game average (1.8) than Rabiot in the Juventus squad and should he start on the left side of midfield – likely given Arthur’s absence through injury – he will covering the flank of Porto’s most fouled player this season – Jesus Corona. Unlike the deadly virus, opposition players have seemingly wanted to get too close to the Mexican and he’s been fouled 55 times across 25 appearances. If the line-ups fall as expected, I think Rabiot stands a better than 7/2 shot of picking up a card here.  

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