After a 2-1 defeat in Portugal last week, Juventus will now play Benfica back in Turin looking to overturn that one-goal deficit. Although they suffered defeat to Benfica in the first game, the result was not by any means disastrous for Antonio Conte‘s men. However, it could also have been much better.
Some slack defending by Juventus cost them in that game, and they will undoubtedly have to tidy that up for the return leg on Thursday. The biggest key for Juventus, though, will be their midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo. Pirlo is the man who pulls all the strings in the Juventus midfield, but the Italian had a disappointing impact on the first game in Portugal.
Benfica sprung quick counterattacks on Juventus when the Italians were wasteful in possession, and for all his talent, defending quick counterattacks is not exactly the forte of Pirlo. Instead, Juventus need Pirlo in possession as much as possible, not only because he can create scoring chances with effortless ease, but because he can control a game from his position with his passing and vision.
Allowing Pirlo to do this will cut down the amount of opportunities Benfica will have to spring counterattacks; less time tracking back in transition means more time probing in attack. Pirlo can supply ample service for attackers like Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente to win the game for Juventus.
Arturo Vidal is an doubtful for the Italians due to injury, but could play a part in the game. The Chilean has scored 11 goals in Serie A from midfield this season, and he could be another avenue of goals for Juventus and Pirlo to look to. Either way, Pirlo will be the main man and he needs to be more involved than he was last week. If he is, Juventus will be in a fantastic position to make it through to the final.