Know Juventus' rivals in Champions League Group E

The Old Lady is making her comeback against Europe's finest. What does Juventus' group have in store for them?
By Arkaprabha Chakraborty

Shakhtar Donetsk

Performance in last year's tournament: Won the Ukrainian Premier League but were ousted at Group Stage finishing last in a very close Group G, consisting of the likes of FC Porto, APOEL and Zenit St. Petersburg.

How they qualified this year: Finished champions of the Ukrainian Premier League last season and thus achieved automatic qualification.

The Manager

Mircea Lucescu is one of the most experienced managers around and his more than three decades of managerial career would have to come handy, if Shakhtar are to qualify out of this group. The former Romanian international has had notable stints with the likes of Inter Milan, Galatasaray, Besiktas and has been associated with his current club since 2004. Although he has two UEFA Cup triumphs under his belt, once with Galatasaray and once with Shakhtar in 2009, his Champions League exploits are only restricted to three Quarter final appearances with Inter Milan, Galatasaray and his current club.

Formation and Tactics


Jadson's departure has left a void in the Shakhtar line-up but Henrikh Mkhitarayan's stupendous form of late has meant that the Ukrainian champions have not quite missed the now Sao Paulo man.

Shakhtar, however, will have a settled back four from last season, where as Andriy Pyatov will take up the custodian's role.

Up front, Willian, who has been in midst of interests from several top clubs this summer, should be filling in at left wing while either of Eduardo or Douglas Costa should be doing the same in the right. Mkhitaryan plays the all important role of central attacking midfielder, and Adriano completes the line up by being the lone man forward.


should be hoping to upset Group favourites Chelsea and Juventus in order secure a passage through to the next round, and one feels they would have their chances, given Chelsea's inconsistent run of late and Juventus making a come-back at the big stage after a considerable amount of time.

  Man to Watch - Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Voted the player of the last season by Shakhtar fans and named among UEFA's Top 100 players (2012), the Armenian attacking midfielder has had a massive impact with the club since his arrival in 2010, having netted 24 times in his 51 appearances. And he, once again, has had a blistering start to the season, with an impressive tally of 11 goals in just 8 appearances so far and not to forget the flurry of assists he has made to go with it! The 23 year old is currently the top scorer in the Ukrainian Premier League.

Chelsea FC

Performance in last year's tournament: Defending champions of Europe after beating Bayern Munich in last year's final.

How they qualified this year: Through the Champions Route as their disappointing league campaign saw them finish sixth, far below the Champions League slots.

The Manager

Roberto di Matteo has had to deal with the tag 'wizard' as a manager in addition to 'legend' as a player from the Blue side of London these days. Having become a Champions League winning manager after taking on a seemingly doomed ship from which Andre Villas-Boas had been ousted from, he has definitely been in the spotlight. Awarded a permanent contract and given a lavish spending plan, di Matteo certainly has everything he could want. We know his strengths, an unbelievable motivator, a smart tactician and a believer in free-flowing attacking. With this fresher, faster Chelsea team, Europe will certainly have to watch out.
Formation and Tactics


Chelsea will be operating with a back four that is pretty strong on paper, although a few unexpected cracks have begun to show in captain John Terry. He's still quite the lion and will partner David Luiz in the heart of the Chelsea defence. Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic will expectedly occupy the left back and right back slots.

The base of the midfield comprises of destroyer John Obi Mikel and deep playmaker Frank Lampard. The attacking midfield trio is perhaps the place where Chelsea have the most luxury of choice, but we expect the strongest and most balanced line-up to be that of Ramires, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard. Up front is the obvious choice. The one, the only Fernando Torres, who looks to be back to form again.


With the kind of investment they have made over the summer, Chelsea would certainly want to come out of the group as toppers. Juventus certainly need to be wary of di Matteo's men, especially at their home fortress Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea FC
  Man to Watch - Eden Hazard

The young Belgian led much of Europe in general and most of the Premier League in particular on a merry dance all summer with the frustratingly slow choosing of his next club. But once he signed for Chelsea, he has shown the world how he is well worth the wait. With an explosive start to life in the Premier League, having been involved in 7 of Chelsea's 8 goals in total and won 4 consecutive Man of the Match awards, he has become Chelsea's spark in a matter of weeks. A difference maker, simply put.

FC Nordsjaelland

Performance in last year's tournament: Did not feature in last year's edition.

How they qualified this year: Champions of the Danish Superliga and became the first Danish team to automatically qualify for the Champions League.

The Manager

A relatively inexperienced manager, Kasper Hjulmand was initially the assistant manager for the club from 2008-2011, having been previously involved with Lyngby BK. In June 2011, he was named the successor of Morten Wieghorst in FC Nordsjælland, where he led them to their first Danish Superliga title.

Formation and Tactics


The Danish champions plays an attacking 4-2-3-1 formation with Enoch Adu and captain Nicolai Stockholm pulling the strings from the midfield and Kasper Lorentzen leading the line. Tobias Mikkelsen would be missing from the right wing after his move to German outfit Greuther Furth and first choice centre back from last season Andreas Bjjeland would also require replacement, after his move to FC Twente. 


The ultimate minnows, they would be looking to utilize this experience among Europe's elites. Realistically, it is unlikely that the mere 21 year old club would make it to the next round but we can of course expect a good showing by them, especially since they have nothing to lose.

  Man to Watch - Nicolai Stokholm

The captain has been an influential figure in the midfield for the Danish champions last season and he would again be the key in leading the inexperienced outfit at the biggest stage of all.

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