Juventus
    Juventus
      25.11.2015 13:00 - in: Champions League S

      Three key #JuveCity duels

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      With Group D’s top two sides meeting on Wednesday night, Juventus.com looks at the key individual battles which could decide the destiny of who finishes first in the table come December
      Giorgio Chiellini vs Sergio Aguero

      If the last line of defence is Gigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini is so often the man stationed at the heart of Juventus’ backline, looking to protect his keeper as best he can.

      And the statistics prove that the Tuscan centre-back has done just that in Juventus’ last two Champions League games, at home and away against Borussia Monchengladbach.

      Across the two fixtures, Chiellini made 10 blocks, five tackles and seven interceptions, all of which crucial to keeping a clean sheet in the first leg and preventing an energetic Gladbach side from capitalising on their numerical advantage to grab a winner in the latter stages of the return match at Borussia-Park.

      Along with his rearguard partners, the Italy international will be tasked with doing a similar defensive job on Manchester City’s world-class striker Sergio Aguero.

      The Argentine has had limited game time in this season’s Champions League due to a hamstring injury, but marked his return to action on Saturday against Liverpool with a brilliantly executed strike from distance.

      Aguero graced his only full appearance in Group D with a match-winning performance away to Borussia Monchengladbach at the end of September, scoring a last-minute penalty to seal City’s maiden UCL victory this term.

      The game saw a dominant all-round display by the forward, who won two-thirds of his 50-50s on the evening and Chiellini will need to be at his best to stop him from hitting the heights of previous campaigns in Europe’s premier club competition, in which he has scored six times in each of the last two seasons.

      Alvaro Morata vs Nicolas Otamendi

      Despite a quiet start to the Serie A season, Alvaro Morata remains Juventus’ go-to man in the Champions League.

      In September the Spaniard equalled Alessandro Del Piero’s record of scoring in five consecutive fixtures in the competition, including a wonder-strike against Wednesday’s opponents at the Etihad Stadium, which wrapped up all three points for the Bianconeri in Matchday One of Group D.

      Although Morata and company generally lacked a cutting edge in the final third against Borussia Monchengladbach, the 23-year-old forward still managed to make useful contributions, such as the six crosses whipped in and as many free-kicks won over the two matches.

      One aspect of his performance in Germany that he’ll be keen to replicate against City’s centre-backs was his dominance in the air, having won 80 per cent of his aerial duels.

      Looking to muscle Morata off the ball on Wednesday evening will be Nicolas Otamendi, the defender growing in confidence game by game since arriving from Valencia in the summer.

      Over the course of his new club’s double-header with Sevilla, the Argentina international made an impressive 13 blocks, six tackles and intercepted five passes.

      In the away leg in Andalusia, Otamendi was especially imperious, winning 75 per cent of his 50-50s in the air, providing the solid defensive platform that was perhaps less obvious in previous Champions League matches this term.

      Paul Pogba vs Fernando

      The last month has seen a significant step up in Paul Pogba’s game this season. Beside a brilliant opening goal in Juventus’ Derby della Mole win on Halloween, the Frenchman has also established himself as an indispensable member of the Bianconeri midfield.

      Not always credited with his defensive contributions, Pogba regained possession more times (17) than any other team-mate in the two legs against Borussia Monchengladbach.

      Meanwhile, going forward he remains a force to be reckoned with, completing 58 passes in the opposition half and creating seven goalscoring opportunities across both Gladbach games.

      Tasked with nullifying Pogba’s attacking threat will be Brazilian midfielder Fernando, whose defensively disciplined displays have seen him play an increasingly pivotal role in recent matches.

      In his side’s latest Champions League clash in Sevilla, the 28-year-old provided exceptional protection to the rearguard with five tackles, two blocks, four interceptions all to his name, as well as winning the ball back on nine occasions and coming out on top in 72.7 per cent of his eleven 50-50s.

      The former Porto man is also very neat and tidy in possession, boasting a 94.9 per cent pass completion rate in the 3-1 victory, all traits which have given his Brazilian midfield partner Fernandinho a license to roam forward and even score the second goal of the evening, in which City booked their place in the knockout stages.

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