Juventus - Chelsea Preview: Blues hoping to put poor domestic form behind them in Turin
With Roberto Di Matteo's men joint-top of Group E but just a point ahead of the Bianconeri, Tuesday night's clash should prove to be a deciding factor in the final standings
By John Stammers
Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini
Lichtsteiner, Marchisio, Pirlo, Vidal, Isla
Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole
Mata, Oscar, Hazard
Juventus were frustrated in a 0-0 draw with Lazio at the weekend but have very few injury concerns, Mirko Vucinic has been absent with a knock since the Old Lady's Serie A defeat to Inter, while Paolo De Cegile (thigh) is still regaining fitness.
Elsewhere Andrea Pirlo will return after sitting out the weekend's game through suspension, with former Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba dropping to the bench.
Sebastian Giovinco could miss out on a starting role after a below-par showing at the weekend, with Alessandro Matri and Nicklas Bendtner waiting in the wings and Simone Pepe ramped up his comeback from injury on Saturday with a substitute appearance.
Roberto Di Matteo has hinted that Fernando Torres' place in the side may be under threat, with Daniel Sturridge waiting in the wings, however it would be a big call to drop the £50 million man.
Chelsea will be without John Terry (knee) with Frank Lampard (calf) also a major doubt, however, Ashley Cole (hamstring) should return after being an unused substitute in the defeat to West Brom.
Oscar, Juan Mata, Branislav Ivanovic and Ramires all started on the bench in that loss on Saturday, but should return to the Blues' line-up for the Group E clash.
The visitors' manager may also chose to drop David Luiz after a sloppy display against the Baggies, with the option of keeping Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back and moving Ivanovic into the middle.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Juventus' 4-0 win over FC Nordsjaelland in their last Champions League game ended a record run of nine successive European draws.
- The reigning Serie A champions have a good record against English teams at home, winning 12 out of 20 meetings - however they have won just one of the last six.
- Gianluigi Buffon (pictured), Leonardo Bonucci, Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo have all played every minute of the Old Lady's group stage campaign, with Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz doing the same for the Blues.
- Chelsea have won only once in eight visits to Italy, beating Lazio, who drew with Juventus at the weekend, 4-0 in a group stage fixture in the 2003-04 season.
- The west Londoners have won just one of their last nine away games in the competition, while they are also without a win in their last four Premier League fixtures.
- Roberto Di Matteo was playing for Italy when Bianconeri keeper Buffon made his international debut, the game was a 1-1 draw with Russia in the 1998 World Cup play-off first leg.
- The west London outfit's duo of Fernando Torres and Juan Mata both scored against Buffon in Spain's 4-0 victory over Italy in the Euro 2012 final.
- Juve pair Giorgio Chiellini and Marchisio are both a booking away from a suspension, while Luiz is also one yellow away from missing a game.
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Top 3 Predictions
Juventus 1-2 Chelsea FC
- 18.9 %
Juventus 3-1 Chelsea FC
- 13.64 %
Juventus 2-1 Chelsea FC
- 13.49 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 20, 2012||Juventus 3 - Chelsea FC 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Sep 19, 2012||Chelsea FC 2 - Juventus 2|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Mar 10, 2009||Juventus 2 - Chelsea FC 2|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Feb 25, 2009||Chelsea FC 1 - Juventus 0|
|Mar 9, 2014||Juventus 1 - Fiorentina 0||ITA1|
|Mar 2, 2014||AC Milan 0 - Juventus 2||ITA1|
|Feb 27, 2014||Trabzonspor AŞ 0 - Juventus 2||EL|
|Feb 23, 2014||Juventus 1 - Torino 0||ITA1|
|Feb 20, 2014||Juventus 2 - Trabzonspor AŞ 0||EL|
|12||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
The Chilean has netted five goals in 11 Serie A games this season, as well as contributing two assists, while he has scored two from four appearances in the Champions League this term - not bad for a man who originally played a deep midfield role. The 25-year-old has moved into a more attacking position this season, and the fact that he has been continually linked with both Manchester clubs and Real Madrid tells you all you need to know about his quality.
The 21-year-old netted twice on his first Chelsea start in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge, and will be chomping at the bit to try and produce a similar return this time around. A tricky attacking midfielder, the Brazilian is always capable of a moment of magic that could prove vital against what is a solid defensive unit. With Torres still struggling to find the net, the Blues' manager is becoming ever more reliant on goals from midfield.
Although Chelsea stormed to a 2-0 lead in the first meeting between the sides in this competition, the reigning Serie A champions fought their way back to a 2-2 draw. It is likely to be a close game once again, with both teams oozing quality and so much at stake. Given Shakhtar Donetsk will be expected to pick up three points against FC Nordsjaelland, another tense stalemate is very much on the cards.