As a former player who broadened his football horizons by testing himself in Serie A, Paul Elliott is in a better position than many to offer an insight into tonight’s Champions League game against Juventus.
The Blues require at least a draw in Turin to ensure our hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition remain in our own hands, and Elliott, who enjoyed a spell at Pisa in the late 1980s, believes Roberto Di Matteo’s side possess more than enough quality to secure not just a point, but all three.
‘Juventus are a fantastic team,’ he tells the official Chelsea website. ‘They went almost 50 games unbeaten in their league, and they have re-emerged as a force and relocated to a new stadium.
‘They’re short on star quality, but are a very solid and dependable team, very effective and efficient.
‘[Andrea] Pirlo is their best player,’ he states. ‘He’s a classic quarterback and has wonderful feet, superb distribution and a great sense of movement.
‘Like all great players, every time he gets the ball he seems to be in space.’
‘Chelsea can win the game, and certainly get the right outcome. There is a momentum still with Chelsea and it was important to get a big result in the last Champions League game.’
Elliott moved to Stamford Bridge from Celtic in 1991, before a promising career was curtailed prematurely following a tackle by Liverpool’s Dean Saunders at the beginning of the 1992/93 campaign.
Before his spell in Scotland he was fortunate enough to play in Serie A at a time when it was at its most glamorous. A number of high-profile incidents, particularly in recent years, have seen its stock fall behind that of the Premier League and La Liga, but he believes the tide is turning.
‘I love Italian football,’ he says. ‘I was very lucky to spend three years there, when I think it was easily the best league in the world.
‘The experience I had there was fabulous, and I’ve always stayed in touch with it. I’ve seen upsides and downsides and I think it is on the way back up again.’