Porto managed to escape the January transfer window unscathed - Andre Silva and Danilo Pereira will see out at least the remainder of this season (but likely no more). That gives the Portuguese side hope that, if they can prevent Juve from scoring an away goal in Porto, they have a chance to steal this tie from one of Europe’s most consistently impressive sides this season.
Any upset would come from a combination of a defensive masterclass from a squad that’s allowed only 14 goals between the Primeira Liga and the group stage and poise from the aforementioned Silva.
That will be a tall order against the Serie A leaders, who have only allowed 17 goals in Italy all season, while Gonzalo Higuain has scored 19 alongside the ingenuity of Paulo Dybala. It’s a squad that has been nearly unequaled across Europe in their dominance this season, and looking at the rest of the field, are top contenders to reach the final they lost two years ago to Barcelona.
Porto have a chance, but it will require a complete shutdown of Juve, a performance that their relatively weak group didn’t require.
Porto are in the midst of an uncharacteristic trophyless drought, having not won anything for two seasons - the first time they’ve done so since 1981. They’ve brought in Valencia manager Nuno and kept hold of captain Hector Herrera and Algerian attacking midfielder Yacine Brahimi. There will be intense focus on winning a domestic trophy this season, but in a group that includes FC København, Club Brugge and Leicester City, there is no reason why they couldn’t simultaneously make progress in the Champions League. After a couple years in the wilderness, it could be a return to form for the Dragons.
Over the summer, Italian champions Juve robbed their biggest Serie A rivals of their best talent - taking the league’s top goalscorer, Gonzalo Higuain, away from second-place finishers Napoli and the most productive midfielder, Miralem Pjanic, from Roma, who finished third. With their domestic season looking comfortable, you’d expect Juventus to put their focus on winning the Champions League for the first time since 1996, with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte starting in midfield. While they’ll certainly miss the loss of Paul Pogba, they’ve reinforced enough over the summer that they are considered among the favorites to reach the final.
One of three captains ever to win each of the Champions League, European Championship and the World Cup.
A box-to-box midfielder and key component of the Mexican national team.
Scored a Serie A-record 36 league goals for Napoli last season.
The heart and soul of Juve for over 15 years and 460+ appearances, even as they were relegated to Serie B following the Calciopoli betting scandal.