Manuel Veth –
Juventus vs Lokomotiv Moscow – Tuesday, October 22, 20:00BST/21:00CEST – Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy
Cristiano Ronaldo’s appetite for goals cannot be satisfied. On the weekend, the Portuguese forward received a shirt with the number 700 from Juventus President Andrea Agnelli. The striker promptly added number 701 in what was his fifth goal in nine competitive games this season.
Only Gerd Müller, Ferenc Puskas, Romario, Josef Bican, Pelé, and Arthur Friedenreich have scored more often. Ronaldo’s goal was vital as it secured the club a 2-1 victory over a Bologna side that proved to be more than just a pesky opponent on the weekend. A victory that was also due to Gigi Buffon’s fantastic performance.
The 41-year-old keeper, however, will likely find himself on the bench again with the nominal number 1 Wojciech Szczesny expected to get the start. Overall, head coach Maurizio Sarri is still somewhat experimenting with a Juve side that has finally secured first place in Serie A.
“To find the right balance on the defensive line, we have been privileged so far to keep the same continuity in central defence,” Sarri said this week. “However, I hope that I will be able to make changes without losing solidarity.”
For Lokomotiv Moscow, in the meantime, the focus not just on stopping Ronaldo’s goal appetite. “Nobody has been able to stop Ronaldo yet, but we have to focus on stopping the whole team, not just one player,” Yuri Semin said this week. “Doing that would be a mistake, as they have great players in every position.”
First, in the Russian Premier Liga, Lokomotiv easily dispatched Chechnya-based side Akhmat Grozny on matchday 13. For Semin, however, the game created some headaches. Luka Djordjević had to walk off with an injury; the Montenegrian striker joins a long list of injured players that includes Fedor Smolov, Jefferson Farfan and Anton Miranchuk.
As a result, Loko will have to rely on the 2016 Euro hero Éder. The striker on his own, however, should not provide much of a headache to a very experienced Juventus backline.
Juventus vs Lokomotiv Moscow – Players to look out for:
Matthijs de Ligt #4 – Juventus
Matthijs de Ligt has somewhat struggled to make the adaption from Dutch football to Serie A. At the same time, Sarri has been patient with the young Dutch defender. De Ligt has started in six out of eight Serie A games and played the full 180 minutes in Juve’s two Champions League games. Even though he has been somewhat prone to making mistakes, Juve have on average collected 2.67 points with him in the lineup. The 20-year-old, therefore, remains a work in progress, but few are doubting that de Ligt will show his full potential soon.
João Mário #23 – Lokomotiv Moscow
João Mário joined his fellow Euro 2016 hero Éder at Lokomotiv on loan from Inter Milan this summer. The attacking midfielder was once a price asset worth €40 million. But the attacking midfielder struggled at Inter, and a loan to West Ham did little to revitalise the 26-year-old’s career. As a result, his value collapsed, allowing Lokomotiv to sign the Portuguese attacking midfielder on loan, with a buy-on clause of just €18 million.
Juventus vs Lokomotiv Moscow – Match Stats
- Juventus have won both previous fixtures between the sides without conceding, coming out 4-0 aggregate victors in the 1993/94 UEFA Cup first round.
- The 2-1 win at Leverkusen on Matchday 1 was Lokomotiv’s first away victory in the UEFA Champions League since a 2-1 win at Galatasaray in the 2002/03 first group stage. Their record between those two victories, qualifying included, was D4 L9.
- Lokomotiv’s last trip to Italy brought a goalless draw at Palermo in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup group stage. Beaten in three of their first four visits (D1), they have drawn the last two.
- Juve have won all three home games against Russian visitors, scoring nine goals and conceding only one.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Juventus vs Lokomotiv Moscow – 3-1
Juventus vs Lokomotiv Moscow – Lineups
Szczesny – Alex Sandro, Bonucci, de Ligt, Cuadrado – Khedira, Pjanič, Matuidi – Bernardeschi – Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo
Head Coach: Maurizio Sarri
Guilherme – Bryan Idowu, Corluka, Höwedes, Zhivoglyadov – Murilo Cerqueira, Krychowiak – João Mario, Al. Miranchuk – Éder, Zhemaletdinov
Head Coach: Yuri Semin
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others, contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC, and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.