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Reuben Joe Joseph
Reuben Joe Joseph

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Last 16 preview: Juventus take on Tottenham, FC Basel versus City

tottenham-harry-kane-reuters Tottenham's Harry Kane applauds fans after the match against Arsenal | Reuters

There is no man, in world football today, that strikes fear into the hearts of defenders like Tottenham's Harry Kane does. And, this man could prove to be the difference in the first Champions League Round of 16 match of this season. The mighty Juventus has its work cut out against the Hotspurs.

Tottenham crushed European champion Real Madrid and Germany's Borussia Dortmund, on the way to collecting the most points by a team in the group stages this year. On the domestic circuit, Mauricio Pochettino's men endured a shaky start to the season. Firmly in contention for a top four spot, Spurs come in to the CL clash off consecutive victories against Manchester United and Arsenal.

Italian champion Juventus, too, has rallied to recover from a slow start to the season, and is just one point behind Napoli in the Serie A. Having collected the silver medal after losing to Madrid in the final of the Champions League last year, the Old Lady of Turin finished second to another Spanish team, Barcelona, in their group stage this year.

Tottenham's attack consisting of Kane, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son have wreaked havoc this season and will be up against Juventus's famed defensive line, marshalled by goalkeeper Gigi Buffon. Despite the departure of centre back Leonardo Bonucci, Massiimiliano Allegri's has made good use of Mehdi Benatia in defence, alongside the sturdy Giorgio Chiellini.

But the absence of Paulo Dybala, Blaise Matuidi and Juan Cuadrado, due to injury, could hurt Juve, and the attack will now be heavily reliant on Gonzalo Higuain to get the better of Tottenham's in-form 'keeper, Hugo Lloris.

The lilywhites of London will travel to Turin for the first leg. The two teams have never met in the CL before and will be out to create history. A clearly frustrated Buffon, said earlier in the season that he will retire in the summer unless his club wins the Champions League. A hurricane called Harry Kane could decide his fate.

The City juggernaut

This year's round of 16 will have an overdose of English teams, who will feature in the five of the eight match-ups. The other game of the night will pit Manchester City against Swiss side FC Basel, in a David versus Goliath clash. No team in Europe would have preferred to draw the rampaging English side. City is a mind-boggling 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, with 11 games to go.

City had topped its group, a relatively easy one, while Basel finished second to Manchester United in its group. Incidentally, the Swiss outfit had pulled off a shock defeat of United in one of the group games, but that might not be enough to give the team hope when they face one of the best teams in the world.

Basel are currently second in the Swiss Super League, five points adrift of the top, and will they host the Cityzens for the biggest game of their season. Basel has never made it past the round of 16 in the Champions League before.

City will be without Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Bernard Mendy, while Basel's midfielder Luca Zuffi will miss the game.

Pep Guardiola's team, which is a firm contender for the continental title this year, are expected to stroll through to the next round, and you can expect to see a tiki-taka spectacle on field, as City are superior in every department. Unless, of course, Basel have other plans.

Matches:

Juventus vs Tottenham, February 14, 01:15am

FC Basel vs Manchester City, February 14, 01:15am

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