Stalemate in Ukraine's Champions League opener
The group stages of the 2020/2021 Champions League finally get underway on Tuesday evening. Italian giants Juventus head east to the Ukrainian capital to do battle with Dynamo Kyiv, who very rarely are pushovers for any opposition in the continent's top competition. The Old Lady have had a decidedly indifferent start to their domestic campaign and, without Cristiano Ronaldo, could struggle to land any blows on Mircea Lucescu's men. Read our preview here:
One of the key strengths for the hosts in their blistering start to this season's Ukrainian Premier League has been their evident tactical and positional flexibility that Lucescu has been able to drill into his players. Young striker Vladyslav Supriaha will lead the line in a starring role; the 20 year-old enjoyed a very successful campaign out on loan at former side Dnipro-1, scoring in a ratio of better than one every other game and gaining vital first-team experience in the process. He will now look to prove that he has the credentials to push on against some of Europe's very best defences, and despite the visitors' jittery opening salvos, few would describe the centre-back pairing of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini as anything other than still being in the elite. Supriaha will be helped on either side in a 4-3-3 by Gerson Rodrigues (a tricky winger notable for being one of the few Luxembourger internationals to truly be at the top level currently) and Viktor Tsyhankov, who has had an excellent start to the year. In defensive situations, the wider forwards can tuck back in to form a bank of five in midfield in an attempt to throttle Juve's openings.
The Portuguese talisman was missing from the utterly abject showing at lowly Crotone at the weekend by I Bianconeri, and is set to miss out once more. Behind the frontline, the midfield have come in for a lot of criticism from fans and pundits alike, and daft red cards in their last two outings have been no help whatsoever. Without Aaron Ramsey, Matthias de Ligt, Weston McKinnie, and Alex Sandro, the complexion of the team looks decidedly different and all the weaker for it. The erratic Adrien Rabiot will be back in the engine room for the visitors alongside Rodrigo Bentancur, and together must make the most of any small gaps in between the lines to thread through balls to Álvaro Morata to latch onto.
Obstinacy in Ukraine
Ordinarily, despite the toughness of the opposition, Juventus would be favourites on paper to get the three points. This isn't one of those times. Andrea Pirlo's still finding his feet as head coach; Ronaldo and other important figures are out of contention, and Paulo Dybala remains overlooked. There is a chance of the very opposite happening, but there still ought to be enough quality on show to get something out of the contest from the away team's perspective. 888sport are offering odds of 3.25 for the adversaries to slug it out to a draw, and that seems nailed-on right now.