Continuing the build-up to tonight’s European opener, Rick Glanvill and Paul Dutton get tactical and statistical…
Antonio Conte’s Juventus offer a similar tactical test to last season’s visitors Napoli, with Euro 2012’s star playmaker Andrea Pirlo among their ranks tonight. Chelsea’s impressive new wide men should test the Italians’ defensive capabilities.
Conte deploys his troops in a 3-5-2 formation, converting to 3-3-4 when they are attacking, with the wing-backs Paolo De Ceglie and Martín Cáceres pushing on.
When the more counter-attacking Napoli lined up with three at the back in last season’s Round of 16, Chelsea perhaps missed a trick by not switching from the usual 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3, pitching three against three in the final third.
Outflanking or stretching a back three like Napoli’s or Juve’s is a key objective. In Naples Branislav Ivanovic was asked to play almost as a winger, firing in crosses, but ultimately reducing numbers at the other end of the pitch.
It also meant the Blues’ defensive right was frequently exposed with rapid counterattacks, and the Neapolitans and their highly-prized frontline ran out 3-1 winners.
The key difference in the home return leg was the sheer force of will of Chelsea – in particular Didier Drogba – plus an Agincourt of crosses, and an intimidating Stamford Bridge crowd baying for goals. Tall at the back, Juve are less likely to be troubled by high balls.
Roberto Di Matteo, newly installed, retained the same formation and put Ramires on the left and Daniel Sturridge on the right upfront and asked more questions of the visitors. It meant the dangerous Lavezzi could not afford to stay forward as he had in Naples.
Juventus play a fast, incisive game. Andrea Pirlo is their lynchpin, and opposition teams have a degree of success taking special measures to stop everything going through the elegant playmaker.
For Chelsea, Juan Mata’s can-opening qualities were missed at the weekend when he had only just returned from his well-earned rest period after a busy summer.
His presence at QPR might well have made the difference between a draw and a win, so evident is the chemistry between him, Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres in the early part of the season.
The two Spaniards both scored past Gianluigi Buffon in their country’s 4-0 UEFA Euro 2012 final victory over Italy. The goalie’s Juve teammates Pirlo, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Claudio Marchisio were also involved in the game.
On Saturday the Blues looked livelier for the introduction of winger Victor Moses – making a bright debut – and a hungry-looking Daniel Sturridge in the central role he often talks about. The busyness around the QPR box that followed the switch to a 4-3-3, with Ramires dropping deeper, provided the manager with further considerations for tonight.
Di Matteo may ask his right-back to stay back more than usual, leaving the likes of Sturridge, Hazard, Moses or Mata to exploit the wide spaces. He will want to leave enough at the back to cover Juve’s danger men: small, dynamic Sebastian Giovinco and Mirko Vucinic, who plays off him. They are joint league top scorers with two apiece so far.
As with Napoli’s coach Walter Mazzarri last season, Antonio Conte, who likes to tinker during games, is suspended from the touchline. Up to half his outfield players will have little or no Champions League football under their belts and surely would have benefited from his presence. Chelsea are vastly more experienced at this level and will hope to make that count.
It’s likely Chelsea will have five survivors from the starting line-up at the Bridge three and a half years ago: Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, John Mikel Obi and John Terry.
Juventus are likely to have just two. Experienced goalie Buffon and defender Chiellini both played on Sunday at Genoa.
There are some familiar names from the Premier League in the Juve squad though. Centre-forward Nicklas Bendtner, yet to come off the bench for his new team, was on the losing side in six of the eight games he’s faced Chelsea, with Arsenal and Sunderland. Paul Pogba was highly rated at Manchester United and was an unused sub during last season’s 3-3 at the Bridge.
Chelsea are looking for a seventh successive home win the Champions League having won all six at Stamford Bridge last term scoring 17 and conceding two.
The Blues have topped our group in seven of our last nine Champions League campaigns. We have never failed to progress to the knockout stage.
The Blues have won eight of our 10 Matchday One fixtures, drawing the other two to AC Milan (1999) and Rosenborg (2007).
We have lost only two of our last 33 home Champions League matches (including 24 victories) since 2006.
|1965/66||Roma||W 4-1||Inter-Cities Fairs Cup first round|
|1965/66||AC Milan||W 2-1||Inter-Cities Fairs Cup third round|
|1997/98||Vicenza||W 3-1||European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final|
|1999/00||AC Milan||D 0-0||Champions League first group stage|
|1999/00||Lazio||L 1-2||Champions League second group stage|
|2003/04||Lazio||W 2-1||Champions League group stage|
|2008/09||Roma||W 1-0||Champions League group stage|
|2008/09||Juventus||W 1-0||Champions League round of 16|
|2009/10||Inter||L 0-1||Champions League round of 16|
|2011/12||Napoli||W 4-1 aet||Champions League round of 16|
Chelsea’s last ten years in Europe
2002/03 – UEFA Cup – first round
2003/04 – Champions League – semi-final
2004/05 – Champions League – semi-final
2005/06 – Champions League – round of 16
2006/07 – Champions League – semi-final
2007/08 – Champions League – runners-up
2008/09 – Champions League – semi-final
2009/10 – Champions League – round of 16
2010/11 – Champions League – quarter-final
2011/12 – Champions League – winners
|Aug 12||Manchester City (Community Shield)||L 2-3|
|Aug 19||Wigan (a)||W 2-0|
|Aug 22||Reading (h)||W 4-2|
|Aug 25||Newcastle (h)||W 2-0|
|Aug 31||Atlético Madrid (Uefa Super Cup)||L 1-4|
|Sep 15||QPR (a)||D 0-0|
Scorers Torres 3, Cahill 2, Ivanovic 2, Lampard 2 (2 pens), Bertrand 1, Hazard 1 (pen). Total 11.
|Sat 22 Sep||Stoke City home||3.00pm|
|Tue 25 Sep||Wolves (Capital One Cup) home||7.45pm|
|Sat 29 Sep||Arsenal away||12.45pm|
If selected from the outset, Fernando Torres will make his 50 start in a Blue shirt.
John Terry needs one goal to reach 50 in all competitions for the Blues.
28 league titles, last in 2012
9 Italian Cups, last in 1995
5 Italian Super Cups, last in 2012
2 European Cups, last in 1996
1 European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1984
3 UEFA Cups, last in 1993
2 UEFA Super Cups, last in 1996
2 Intercontinental Cup, last in 1996
Juventus have been crowned European Champions on two occasions, in 1984/85 against Liverpool and 1995/96 against Ajax on penalties. They have been runners-up five times; 1973 v Ajax, 1983 v Hamburg, 1997 v Borussia Dortmund, 1998 v Real Madrid and AC Milan with Andriy Shevchenko on penalties in 2003.
* titles revoked
In winning Serie A last season Juventus remained unbeaten. Their only defeat came in the Coppa Italia final against Napoli.
They have won their last seven away games in Serie A conceding just two goals.
Juve have won twice on English soil against English teams in 20 attempts. The last occasion, against Man Utd, was 16 years and 11 games ago.
Italy’s starting XI in their recent World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria contained seven Juve players.
Their overall record against English teams is 15 wins, 12 draws and 15 defeats.
|1997/98||Man Utd||L 2-3||Champions League group stage|
|1998/99||Man Utd||D 1-1||Champions League semi-final|
|2001/02||Arsenal||L 1-3||Champions League second group stage|
|2002/03||Newcastle||L 0-1||Champions League first group stage|
|2002/03||Man Utd||L 1-2||Champions League second group stage|
|2004/05||Liverpool||L 1-2||Champions League quarter-final|
|2005/06||Arsenal||L 0-2||Champions League quarter-final|
|2008/09||Chelsea||L 0-1||Champions League round of 16|
|2009/10||Fulham||L 1-4||Europa League round of 16|
|2010/11||Man City||D 1-1||Europa League group stage|
Ten-year European record
2002/03 – Champions League runners-up
2003/04 – Champions League round of 16
2004/05 – Champions League quarter finals
2005/06 – Champions League quarter finals
2006/07 – Did not qualify
2007/08 – Did not qualify
2008/09 – Champions League round of 16
2009/10 – Europa League round of 16 having transferred from the Champions League group stage
2010/11 – Europa League group stage
2011/12 – Did not qualify
|Aug 11||Napoli (Italian Super Cup, Beijing)||W 4-2aet|
|Aug 25||Parma (h)||W 2-0|
|Sep 2||Udinese (a)||W 4-1|
|Sep 16||Genoa (a)||W 3-1|
Scorers Vu?ini? 3 (1 pen), Asamoah 2, Giovinco 2, Vidal 2 (2 pens), Giaccherini 1, Lichtsteiner 1, Pirlo 1, own goal 1. Total 13.
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Pedro Proença is refereeing Chelsea for the second successive Champions League game having been the official in the final in Munich in May. He, his assistant referees and additional assistant referees are all from Portugal.
Juventus manager Antonio Conte is currently banned for 10 months over alleged match-fixing violations.