25 August 2016
Today’s Champions league draw in Monaco has pitted Juventus against Sevilla for the second year running.
Goals by Alvaro Morata and Simone Zaza saw the Bianconeri win 2-0 last September in Turin, while Fernando Llorente would score against his former club to seal victory for the Spaniards in the final group game in December – a result which allowed Manchester City to pip Massimiliano Allegri’s men to top spot in the standings.
The Rojiblancos, who finished last season’s Group D in third place and thus qualified for the Europa League’s knockout stages, would go on to win the competition for a record fifth occasion in their history and a third time on the trot.
The Andalusians will be making their fifth ever appearance at Europe’s top table, but this marks the maiden Champions League campaign for manager Jorge Sampaoli, the Argentine and former Chile international team coach taking over the reins this summer from Unai Emery, who in turn took charge of Paris Saint-Germain after three stellar seasons in southern Spain.
Juventus can expect to take on a much-changed Sevilla outfit to the one they faced this time last year, with a number of high-profile departures in Grzegorz Krychowiak (PSG), Kevin Gameiro (Atletico Madrid), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Fernando Llorente (Swansea), Coke (Schalke) and Diogo Figueiras (Olympiacos).
That has meant that the Rojiblancos have been especially busy in bringing players in, signing a raft of attack-minded players in the form of Franco Vazquez (from Palermo), Joaquin Correa (Sampdoria), Ganso (Sao Paulo), Wissam Ben Yedder (Toulouse) and Hiroshi Kiyotake (Hannover), to mention but a few.
Last season’s second-placed side in Ligue 1, Olympique Lyon are bracing themselves for a 14th Champions League campaign – more than any other French club.
Juventus have come up against their transalpine rivals in European competition just once in the past, namely the Europa League quarter-finals in 2013/14 with the Bianconeri winning both legs (2-1 at home, 1-0 away).
There is little doubt as to Lyon’s rich Champions League pedigree, having qualified from the group stages in nine of their last ten appearances, although they failed to do so in their most recent campaign, finishing fourth in 2015/16.
Managed by former player Bruno Genesio, Les Gones (‘The Kids’) count among their ranks one of the country’s hottest striking properties in Alexandre Lacazette. The France international forward, who has 76 goals to his name across all competitions from his last three seasons, has already netted five times in Lyon’s opening two league games this term.
With Mathieu Valbuena starring in attacking midfield and the likes of Christophe Jallet, Rafael and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa featuring in defence, Lyon boast plenty of players with significant Champions League experience to call upon.
The presence of Dinamo Zagreb in Group H means that Juventus counts ex players of all three of their upcoming Champions League opponents among their ranks: Dani Alves (Sevilla), Miralem Pjanic (Lyon), Mario Mandzukic and Marko Pjaca (both Dinamo Zagreb).
The Bianconeri have faced Croatia’s capital outfit on two previous occasions, namely a Coppa delle Fiere quarter-final in 1966-67 won by Dinamo over two legs, while Juve got the upper hand of a double-legged Mitropa Cup meeting five years beforehand.
This term’s marks last year’s Croatian champions’ sixth ever Champions League campaign, the fourth time that they have reached the competition’s group stages, and they will now be looking to reach the knockout round for the first time in their history.
Dinamo have defeated Macedonian side Vardar, Dinamo Tbilisi of Georgia and Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg in order to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition.
Midfielder Marko Rog leads the club’s scoring charts during the qualification rounds with three goals to his name, followed by Juve new boy Pjaca and Algerian forward El Arabi Hilal Soudani (two apiece).