Three points against Juventus this evening will see us qualified for the Champions League knockout rounds.

That is the simple fact Branislav Ivanovic feels we must keep in mind at the rebuilt Juventus Stadium, and while a draw would leave us favourites to progress, the Serbian defender believes we must approach the game with nothing less than the maximum return in our thoughts.

Having beaten Shakhtar a fortnight ago we have already come through one proverbial cup final, and it is now time for another potentially decisive fixture.

‘Tuesday is a crucial game for our season. We have already had a couple of games like this this year, but this one is like a final for us,’ said the 28-year-old Ivanovic. ‘It can decide a lot, but if we do what we know it is going to be fine.’

These are the calm words of a European champion, albeit one who was forced to sit out last season’s final after a yellow card against Barcelona denied him a place in Munich. It is the team spirit and strength of character that pulled us through in the last campaign Ivanovic believes can serve us well in northern Italy as we seek a group-defining win.

It would also prove a vital confidence boost following four domestic league games without a win.

‘We know we cannot lose, of course,’ Ivanovic nods. ‘But the mentality of the team is not like this. We have to follow our philosophy of attacking and trying to win the game, because we are Chelsea and we have a way of playing.

‘We want to win every game and qualify as soon as possible, and we have to be true to our philosophy.’

Ivanovic was an unused sub at West Brom at the weekend, but will expect to regain his place for Juve, either at centre-back or at right-back, though he has been impressed with Cesar Azpilicueta, who created our goal at The Hawthorns three days ago.

‘Cesar is great. He takes up good positions and it’s important we have players like this who can play games, because we have a lot in the season,’ Ivanovic said. ‘I hope he will use every chance he has to play.’

Whoever is alongside him, Ivanovic will be eager to make sure things are kept tight in defence. Anything else and it could be a long night.


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