The Champions League returns next week and there is no shortage of eye-catching matches to choose from. Valencia v Juventus is certainly one of those. Both of these sides have strong recent Champions League pedigree, with Juventus the defeated finalists last season and Valencia twice going close around the turn of the millennium.
However, this one is probably more about one man than two teams: Cristiano Ronaldo.
There are not many players you can say that about, but the former Real Madrid man is certainly one of them. He hasn’t set the world alight by any means since joining Juventus in the summer, but this is his return to Spain and the Champions League, which have very much been established as his favoured stages.
Ronaldo’s Champions League records are stuff of legend. No one has scored more than his 120 goals in the competition. No one has more winners’ medals than his five. He is the only player to score in three finals.
He is the only player to have scored in all six games of a group stage. The 11 consecutive games in which he scored is a Champions League record, as is the 17 goals he scored in a single season back in 2013/14.
He is a better-than-evens 21/20 with 888 to score at any time for Juventus at Valencia and you can get a delicious 39/20 for a wincast of Ronaldo to score any time and Juventus to win. 888 are also offering 6/1 on Ronaldo to grab both a goal and an assist, and that should prove tempting to many as well.
Of course, it’s not all about Ronaldo, and Mario Mandzukic who has picked up where he left off at the World Cup to score two in Juventus’ opening three games this season. 15/2 at the best football betting sites will buy you a Mandzukic first goal and Juve win double.
If you’re looking for a Valencia scorer, another World Cup star, Denis Cheryshev joined Valencia in the summer and he already has a La Liga goal to his name. The Russian is a juicy 12/1 to open the scoring with 888.
Valencia have had a strange few years as they have battled financial problems but they appeared to be on the right path again last season. This season, however, it’s fair to say the have not started well. They have just two points from their opening three La Liga matches. Juventus, meanwhile, have done what Juventus tend to do and swept all before them aside in Seria A so far.
That is, as you’d expect, reflected in the odds. With Juve odds on at 20/23 to win outright and Valencia priced at 33/10 with Karamba. One thing to consider, though, is that Valencia are yet to keep a clean sheet this season.
It seems hard to believe that they will manage to suddenly gain sufficient defensive resolve to keep out Cristiano Ronaldo and co, so if you want to back them to win, the 6/1 at Karamba for Valencia to win and both teams to score is a shrewd upgrade on the outright odds.
As you’d expect, it’s a lot harder to find value if you’re backing a Juventus win. Juve to win and both teams to score can be found at 51/20 with some of the best new bookmakers. That may appear to be putting too much faith in Valencia’s struggling attack, but the context of the night needs to be taken into consideration too.
It is Valencia’s return to the biggest stage and they are hosting one of the glamour clubs of world football, who will be fielding the poster-boy superstar of European football. The atmosphere will be partisan, and the occasion will likely get more from the players than they have been able to produce so far.
Ultimately, it looks like a game in which to back Juventus but expect Valencia to make it really tough for them.