The time is now: three Italian teams face off against three English in the second round of the Champions League. Goal.com experts pick their teams and invite you to do the same...
Arsenal (4-4-1-1): Almunia; Sagna, Toure, Gallas; Clichy; Eboue, Denilson, Song, Nasri; Diaby; Van Persie.
Substitutions: Fabianksi, Gibbs, Djourou, Ramsey, Wilshere, Vela; Bendtner.
Coach: Alan Dawson
Arsenal's defensive performances of late have been reasonably stand-up but their midfield has it's numerous flaws. Roma will look to dominate the centre of the park, and could feasibly swap formations from a 4-5-1 to a 4-2-3-1 to the famed 4-6-0 that has been put into practice a few times already in 2009.
In order to combat this, Arsenal will need to pack their midfield and get tight to their opposition who, on their day, will revel in a short passing game that even Arsene Wenger will no doubt grudgingly admire.
Nicklas Bendtner has been partnering Emmanuel Adebayor up top, but if the Gunners decide to play a 4-4-2 their midfield will be exposed. The return of Abou Diaby is therefore a welcome one, and can do a stand-up job linking midfield with attack.
The bench is raw. But presents youthful and dynamic options in the lively and pacey Vela, or the technically superb pass, move, and dribble of young and oft-hailed Englishman Jack Wilshere. If Arsenal get a home goal they will look to protect that slight lead, and then Djourou and Ramsey could also be brought on to keep things tight, while Bendtner provides a height advantage and a link-up play of his own.
Roma (4-2-3-1): Doni; Cicinho, Motta, Mexes, Riise; De Rossi, Brighi; Taddei, Pizarro, Vucinic; Totti.
Substitutes: Artur, Diamoutene, Tonetto, Aquilani, Perrotta, Baptista, Montella.
Coach: Vince Masiello
Juan has little chance to recover in time from his thigh problem. Considering that Souleymane Diamoutene just made his Roma debut at the weekend and was far from impressive, the more experienced Marco Motta could be fielded out of position and partner Philippe Mexes in central defence. Cicinho is not at his best either, but cannot afford to pull out, as Marco Cassetti is sidelined and Christian Panucci was left off the Champions League list.
Alberto Aquilani is still dealing with an ankle knock and will take a seat on the bench, so the diamond midfield could have Daniele De Rossi and revelation Matteo Brighi sitting deep and Chilean David Pizarro in a more advanced role behind lone striker Francesco Totti, with the flanks patrolled by Saturday hero Rodrigo Taddei and Mirko Vucinic, who is expected to play through pain, as his operated knee keeps tormenting him.
There is no abundance of options for the bench, and out-of-sorts stopper Simone Loria is likely to be the only 'big' name to miss the cut, while Julio 'The Beast' Baptista will be ready to step into the fray when Vucinic eventually throws in the towel.
INTER v MANCHESTER UNITED
Inter (4-4-2): Julio Cesar; Maicon, Cordoba, Chivu, Santon; Zanetti, Cambiasso, Muntari, Stankovic; Ibrahimovic, Adriano
Substitutes: Toldo, Rivas, Burdisso, Maxwell, Figo, Balotelli, Cruz
Coach: Adam Scime
Centre-backs Marco Materazzi and Walter Samuel are struggling with knocks and will miss this match. Patrick Vieira has only made a couple of substitute appearances since returning from long-term injury and has not been deemed ready for a contest of this magnitude. Meanwhile, Hernan Crespo has been left off the Champions League squad, and the disappointing Brazilian winger Mancini has not been included amongst the call-ups.
Some may say 18-year old Davide Santon is too young and raw to be used here, but he has done admirably since his initial appearance in the team in January and has earned a berth against the European champions. Nelson Rivas and Nicolas Burdisso find themselves on the bench, as they do not have the experience or class of Ivan Cordoba and Cristian Chivu. ‘Ibracadabra’ will be partnered by Adriano and their physical presence upfront could be a key to the match as Sir Alex Ferguson must do without star defender Nemanja Vidic. Maicon is irreplaceable at right-back.
The presence of hard-working Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso, Sulley Muntari will allow for plenty of pressure to be placed when Manchester United have possession, and Dejan Stankovic has revelled in the trequartista role on the counter attack.
Figo and Maxwell are options to provide extra width in the second half and teenage striker Mario Balotelli will be in good spirits after scoring at the weekend, and is an ideal choice to come off the bench to add some spark to the offence.
Manchester United (4-4-2): Van der Sar; Fletcher, Ferdinand, O'Shea, Evra; Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs; Rooney, Berbatov
Substitutes: Foster, Eckersley, Fabio Da Silva, Park, Nani, Possebon, Tevez.
Coach: Greg Ptolomey
It must be said, this is not the most glamorous time to pick a Manchester United team. Nemanja Vidic is suspended for the first leg against Inter, a belated punishment for his Club World Cup final sending off. Meanwhile, Jonny Evans has and ankle problem and John O'Shea a heel complaint. Both flew to Milan and Sir Alex Ferguson is most hopeful that O'Shea will pull through. If he doesn't, then Michael Carrick could drop back at a stretch. Rafael da Silva, Gary Neville and Wes Brown are also sidelined, leaving Darren Fletcher as the only man capable of playing at right-back.
To balance this I've included both wily and in-form veterans, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, in a midfield that includes Carrick and the Premier League's Portuguese powerhouse, Cristiano Ronaldo. The hard-working Park Ji-Sung can provide energy off the bench later on once Scholes has run his race, with Giggsy then taking up a more central role.
Up front, there can only be Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov. There won't be the depth to play 4-5-1, so Rooney will have to drop behind the deadly Bulgarian. It'll be a big night for the England forward, himself just returning from injury, but he's capable of providing a moment of magic even at 80% fitness and will run himself into the ground. Let's just hope he can keep his head. If he's booked early or looks to be struggling, Carlos Tevez can replace him.
CHELSEA v JUVENTUS
Chelsea (4-1-2-1-2): Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, A. Cole; Mikel; Ballack, Lampard; Deco; Anelka, Drogba.
Substitutes: Hilario, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Belletti, Malouda, Kalou, Stoch.
Coach: Sulmaan Ahmad
Guus Hiddink is likely to stick with what worked - just about - against Aston Villa at the weekend. Ashley Cole will return at left-back, and the other interesting battle for a place will be between the free-roaming Salomon Kalou and the free-thinking Deco. Kalou would make a better option from the bench, thus there is the possibility of starting Deco and giving the Blues as strong a central presence as Juve are likely to have.
The one red flag in this squad is the weakness of the bench. There is little match-winning talent to behold, but such is the situation in which Chelsea have found themselves after selling squad players here and there and being left with very little. The Blues' strength lies in the proven class present in the XI. As long as they keep the ball for prolonged periods, with an adequate amount of hustle in midfield, thus freeing up Deco to work his creative magic, they will come out with the desired result.
Juventus (4-4-2): Buffon; Grygera, Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Molinaro; Camoranesi, Sissoko, Tiago, Nedved; Amauri, Del Piero.
Substitutes: Manninger, Mellberg, Poulsen, Marchisio, Giovinco, Iaquinta, Trezeguet
Coach: Carlo Garganese
For most of the season, Juventus have been crippled by injuries. However, just in time for the Champions League clash at Chelsea, Claudio Ranieri almost has a full strength squad to choose from. With Paolo De Ceglie one of the few out injured, the goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and back four of Grygera, Chiellini, Legrottaglie and Molinaro virtually picks itself.
In midfield, Pavel Nedved has been inspired in the last two games and must fill the left midfield position, while the creative Mauro Camoranesi takes the right wing role despite not being fully fit. Without the Argentine there is no imagination in the middle third of the pitch. The race to partner Momo Sissoko in midfield is won by Tiago Mendes, purely due to the fact that he has more experience than Claudio Marchisio, and is in much better form than the hugely disappointing Christian Poulsen. Tiago may be targeted as a weak link though, so Sissoko's job is crucial.
The forward line of Alessandro Del Piero and Amauri is a no-brainer, as they have an excellent understanding and provide both guile and power respectively. David Trezeguet, Vincenzo Iaquinta, and Sebastian Giovinco could all be useful attacking options from the bench in the second half.
What are your views on this topic? Who would you pick if you were the boss of Arsenal, Roma, Inter, Manchester United, Chelsea or Juventus? Please leave us with your team and formation.
- - Goal.com team