UCL Match Preview: Juventus vs Chelsea
Stadium: Juventus Stadium
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir
Kick-off: 1:15 AM IST, Wednesday, 21st of November
With a narrow victory over Shakhtar Donetsk last time out, Chelsea leapfrogged the Ukrainian club into first place, although both teams are level on points. Last season’s winners have been fairly impressive thus far, with their newly acquired midfield making a significant impact in Europe. Oscar, in particular, seems to have a fondness for the Champions League, and has scored 4 goals in 4 matches thus far.
Juve, in quite contrasting fashion, ran out comfortable 4 – 0 winners against Nordsjaelland to record their first win in the Champions League this year, after three successive draws. They now sit in an uncomfortable third spot, just one point behind both Chelsea and Shakhtar, with the chance to leapfrog at least Chelsea if they manage to triumph over the visitors on Tuesday night.
Juventus: W L W W D
After their 49 match winning streak was ended in spectacular fashion by Inter Milan, something that will continue to be spoken about in the weeks to come, Juve bounced back brilliantly with 10 goals in the next two games. However, the Turin club were held to a goalless draw at Lazio over the weekend; the first time they have failed to score in eleven matches. With a wealth of attacking options at their disposal, however, even in the absence of Mirko Vucinic, Juve will be quietly confident going into this game in front of their home fans. Vidal, Pirlo, and Marchisio have been in devastating form for the Italian club, and are likely to face off against Oscar, Mata, and Hazard in a duel for attacking supremacy.
Chelsea: W D W D L
With yet another disappointing result in the league over the weekend, some of the most vocal tabloids have begun to speculate over Roberto Di Matteo’s future as Chelsea manager. While it may be too soon to question the Italian’s right to Chelsea’s hot seat, there are definitely concerns over how they now have the second worst tally in the league over the past four weeks, better only than that of QPR, who are bottom of the league. With David Luiz’s below performance against West Brom, and John Terry unavailable, Chelsea may well slot Ivanovic in the centre of defence, and keep Azpilicueta at right back. However, against an experienced side like Juve, it may be too risky a move, and whether RDM attempts it will be interesting to see.
Injuries, Concerns & Suspensions
Juventus: Paulo De Ceglie, Mirko Vucinic.
Kwadwo Asamoah vs Branislav Ivanovic
While all the attention and praise is lavished on Vidal and Pirlo, a certain Ghanaian has been working his socks off under the radar to help Juve maintain their momentum. Kwadwo Asamoah, who plays on the left wing, has been vital to Juve’s goalscoring fortunes this season, with 4 assists, 2 goals, and many more driving runs that have created opportunities credited to others. A powerhouse in his own right, he is also skilled at keeping the ball at his feet, and has the ability to send in crosses past defenders as he hugs the touchline. Whoever is at right-back for Chelsea, probably Ivanovic, will have their hands full with the responsibility to keep Asamoah from sending those dangerous balls into the box.
Oscar dos Santos vs Leonardo Bonucci
As already noted, the Brazilian has been doing exceptionally well in the Champions League, and has an assist in addition to the four goals in four games. Quite ironically for a traditional Italian powerhouse, Juventus have often been all over the place in terms of defending, especially when faced with pacy attacks. Thus, with either Torres or Sturridge up front, the three man defence will have a constant threat to keep an eye on, leaving Oscar to exploit the little gaps that are created by the striker’s runs. Bonucci, who is the central player in Juve’s defence, will need to show some of that famed resolute Italian defending to stop the young Brazilian.
What to expect
A fascinating encounter that is too close to predict, with all three outcomes possible. Juventus have shown quite clearly that they are not a team that is going to sit back and watch play dictated by oppositions, and with the creative genius of Pirlo and the like in midfield, there is no reason for the Italian champions to do so either. On the other hand, we have an equally skilled attack featuring in-form players, who have carried the team well in the absence of an effective striker to perform the goal scoring duties. With a goal-riot just waiting to erupt, this is one game you certainly don’t want to miss.