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Champions League Round of 16 Odds, Picks, Prediction: Villarreal vs. Juventus Betting Preview (Feb. 22)

Champions League Round of 16 Odds, Picks, Prediction: Villarreal vs. Juventus Betting Preview (Feb. 22) article feature image

Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images. Pictured: Paco Alcacer.

  • Villareal is favored over Juventus in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday, though Juve is favored to advance to the quarterfinals.
  • The line has mostly stayed in place over the last 24 hours, with Juventus moving from +205 to +210.
  • Get Anthony Dabbundo's full Villareal vs. Juventus pick and preview below.

Villarreal vs. Juventus Odds

Villarreal Odds +150
Juventus Odds +210
Draw +210
Over/Under 2.5 (+125 / -155)
Day | Time Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds updated via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

Juventus has seen its Champions League tournament end in surprise defeat in each of the last three seasons. The club has lost to Ajax, Lyon and Porto despite being solid favorites in each of those two-legged ties in respective seasons, with Ajax in the 2019 quarterfinals and Lyon and Porto in the last two Rounds of 16.

This season under manager Massimiliano Allegri, who returned to the club after a 2019 departure, the Old Lady is looking to return to its mid-2010s European form that often saw them deep into the UCL knockout stages.

Once again, Juventus is a favorite to advance against a team with much less of a European pedigree. And based on my projections, Juventus is once again a vulnerable and overvalued favorite in Tuesday’s match against Villarreal.

The Old Lady opened as a favorite on the road in the first leg when the Champions League draw and lines were released in December, but that market has moved sharply toward Unai Emery and Villarreal.

Injuries have played a role in that for Juventus, but most of the market movement has come out of respect for Villarreal, which has been arguably the best team in all of Spain in the last few months.

The Yellow Submarine sits just seventh in the La Liga table, but a solid CL group stage campaign saw them escape from a difficult group over Atalanta. Now, Emery’s side will try to find the knockout tournament form that enabled them to win the Europa League over Manchester United last spring.

Is Villarreal Undervalued in UCL Showdown?

Villarreal has been the best team in Spain by expected goals since Dec. 1 — better than Real Madrid, Sevilla and Barcelona, all traditional league powers and the current top two in the league on points.

Emery’s side has posted a +1.36 xG difference per 90 in 10.5 matches at full strength 11-on-11 and a +1.24 actual goal difference.

Both are the best in Spain. Emery is known for his sides being defensively solid and efficient with limited chances in attack. However, Villarreal has produced 2.28 xG per 90 minutes in the last two months and counting, while no other team in Spain has produced more than 2.03 per 90 minutes.

The defense has conceded just 0.92 xG per 90 as well, which is still third-best in the Spanish top flight. The Yellow Submarine struggled early in the season, especially against top sides, but recently handled Real Sociedad, 3-1 (2.8-1.3 xG), tied Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid in games they controlled for large stretches and beat Real Betis, who’s currently third in the league.

There’s a danger in reading a bit too much into recent form when considering these Champions League ties, but Villarreal has the third-best xG difference over the 25-match season in Spain, behind only Real Madrid and Barcelona.

A +0.57 xG difference in La Liga, the second-best league in the world, is considerably better than Juventus’ xG difference in a significantly weaker Italian top flight this year.

Emery’s side has also been considerably better at pressuring the ball this season than in years past. Villarreal finished the 2019-20 season eighth in La Liga in passes per defensive action. Last year, they were 10th in the same metric.

Yet, this year, Emery’s side ranks second in the league in a metric measuring how many passes a team allows opponents to make before winning the ball off them. They’ve won the ball higher up the pitch, conceded fewer shots and created more big scoring chances while striker Gerard Moreno remains out.

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Juventus Offense Leaning on Vlahović

Juventus had a Cristiano Ronaldo-sized hole in its attack for most of the first half of the season, and the decline in shots and production from current striker Alvaro Morata had to be addressed in the January transfer window if they wanted to compete for a top-four spot and a potential Champions League run.

So, Juventus signed Fiorentina player Dušan Vlahović, who is widely regarded as one of the top young strikers in Europe. After all, the 21-year-old had scored 17 goals in 21 starts for Fiorentina. The market has shown plenty of respect for Juventus in the four matches they’ve played with him as striker.

Yet, the results have otherwise been mixed.

He’s managed one goal in three Serie A starts, totaled 12 shots and 1.1 xG in that time frame. He also scored a deflected winning goal at home against Sassuolo in the Coppa Italia. He totaled only one shot attempt at home against Torino this past Friday and was subbed off early.

I’m lower on Vlahović than the market because his production was largely driven off of penalties and unsustainably good finishing. Of those 17 goals for Fiorentina, just 12 were non-penalty goals, and he had only 8.1 NPxG. From 21 starts, 8.1 non-penalty xG is a decent return, but it’s hardly superstar potential.

He’s now up to 9.2 NPxG in 24 starts, which isn’t close to good enough to lead the line for an elite European club.

What you make of Juventus is largely dependent on your opinion of Vlahović. The defense remains solid but is shorthanded due to injuries. Federico Chiesa — Juventus’ best all-around wide forward — is out for the season.

The Juventus attack has yet to produce more than 1.5 xG in any of its last nine games in Italy. Even going back to the group stage earlier this year, Juventus ran up the score on Malmo and Zenit Saint Petersburg at home, but The Old Lady was handled comfortably by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and needed a late winner to break an even tie at Zenit.

Betting Analysis & Picks

FiveThirtyEight projects Villarreal as 61% favorites (-156 implied) to advance to the quarterfinals. My own projections make Villarreal a -110 favorite to advance (52%) and yet the Yellow Submarine is lined as +135 to advance and is barely a favorite at home.

The betting market likes Juventus a whole lot more than underlying metrics and my own projections do, but Villarreal has the better pressing numbers, the better xG difference in a tougher league and got through a much more difficult Champions League group.

Especially at home in the first leg, Villarreal is absolutely undervalued. It wasn’t that long ago that the Yellow Submarine dominated Manchester United at Old Trafford, won a two-legged European tie with Arsenal and handled Atalanta on the road in Bergamo.

Emery’s side is quite undervalued on home soil.

Picks: Villarreal — Draw No Bet (-140 or better) | Villarreal to Advance (+110 or better)

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