It has been a few years since Italian giants Juventus have hosted a Champions League match of substance. That will change on Tuesday, as The Old Lady welcomes defending European Champions Chelsea, in a massive Group E fixture in Turin.
Only one point separates the two sides, as Chelsea shares top of the table, with Shakhtar Donetsk, while Juventus is looking to jump ahead of the Blues, in the group. These two sides met back in September, sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Juventus have three quality strikers that they can use at any given moment. Fabio Quagliarella shares the lead with 8 goals in all competitions for Juventus, and is very tricky to defend against. Quagliarella has a knack for scoring goals from impossible angles. For him, no shot is too difficult to attempt.
What Sebastian Giovinco lacks in size, he makes up for in pace and technical ability. The man known as Formica Atomica usually plays along the flank to put pressure on defenders covering the wing. He can move to the middle of the pitch, but his speed and diminutive stature is better suited along the wing.
Mirko Vucinic has the ability to score long-range goals. The Montenegro International is deadly from 30 yards back, and is very useful as a deep-lying striker. Vucinic is very adept with both feet, which makes him a challenge to defend.
The maestro of the Juventus midfield is Andrea Pirlo. The talismanic figure for Juventus, Pirlo is a sublime serviceman, with meticulous ball skills. An intelligent and skillful player, Pirlo will be key for Juventus success.
Arturo Vidal is a threat from the midfield. The Chilean International shares the club lead with 8 goals in all competitions, and has no problems moving up on the attack. Vidal usually starts as a holding midfielder, but generally moves up to an attacking midfielder slot.
Kwadwo Asamoah is a creative spark in the midfield. The Ghana International leads Juventus with 4 assists, proving his superb playmaking abilities.
Claudio Marchisio is the enforcer in the midfield. Known for aggressive tackling and physical presence, Marchisio provides leadership and tenacity as a holding midfielder. He will be asked to watch over Fernando Torres, to prevent the Chelsea striker, from getting space.
The back four is anchored by Giorgio Chiellini. The centre back is steadfast in his position, and is arguably the best centre back in the world. A physical player, Chiellini can provide goal opportunities with his fantastic set-pieces. Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Paolo De Ceglie and Paul Pogba are all options in the back, though Pogba can move up to a holding midfield spot.
Gianluigi Buffon is an ageless wonder for Juventus. The longtime Italian keeper is still one of the best between the sticks, recording 6 clean sheets in all competitons. Buffon, won’t be intimidated in this type of game, and his calming presence, will ease this Juventus side.
After starting the season on a torrid pace, Chelsea have slowed down recently, going without a win in their last 4 matches in the EPL. While Chelsea did win their last Champions League match, more questions were asked about their form, as they did labour, in their 3-2 result over Shakhtar Donetsk.
One of the reasons is that Fernando Torres isn’t scoring as much. El Nino has just one goal in his last seven matches. Torres will need to find his scoring boots, if Chelsea are to see the knockout stage. There is speculation that Torres may be dropped from the starting eleven in favour of Daniel Sturridge. If that is the case, it could lead to Torres exit from West London.
If Torres can’t find goals, Juan Mata may have to fill the void. Mata is having a splendid season for Chelsea, scoring 6 goals in all competitions. Mata does bring creativity and versatility in the Chelsea attack, as he can be used as a striker, or as an attacking midfielder. Joining Mata will be Eden Hazard and Oscar, although Frank Lampard and Victor Moses may see time on the pitch as well.
John Obi Mikel and Ramires should occupy the holding midfield spots. Both are solid players but have struggled as of late. They will need to be in full force, to hold back the Juventus attack.
The back hasn’t been the same, since the injury to John Terry. The erstwhile centre back suffered a knee injury a week ago, and won’t be available for Tuesday’s match. In his place will be Gary Cahill and David Luiz. Cahill does bring some offensive flair from the back, adding 2 goals to his resume. Ashley Cole should start at left back, while Branislav Ivanovic should start at right back. However, it is possible that Cesar Azpilicueta could be on the team sheet at right back.
No question that Petr Cech will start between the sticks for Chelsea. The Czech Republic International is still highly regarded in football circles, but will need to show better form, than he has demonstrated in recent fixtures.
There seems to be some dissension in the Chelsea squad. David Luiz even confirmed of a rift between manager Roberto Di Matteo and players, following a loss to West Bromwich Albion over the weekend. Along with Torres, there is theory that Di Matteo’s job may be on the line as well. All this uncertainty is troublesome for Chelsea as they know a game in Turin is no easy battle. Juventus needs this win and they will be a force to contend with. I think Juventus gets a 2-1 result and move ahead of Chelsea in the Group E table.
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