Juventus host Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday (7.45pm GMT, live on ITV) knowing that anything less than victory will make it very difficult for them to qualify for the knockout stages.
Chelsea currently share the Group E lead with Shakhtar Donetsk, both teams having accumulated seven points from the four rounds of matches to date. Juventus are a point further back in third, with Nordsjaelland propping up the group with just one point to their credit.
With Shakhtar heavy favourites to win in Nordsjaelland, a Chelsea win here would secure the holders a place in the last 16 and almost certainly eliminate Juventus. A draw would leave Juventus probably needing to win away to Shakhtar in the final round of matches to progress.
A Juventus victory, however, would make the final round of matches very interesting. They and Shakhtar could potentially play out a draw that would see both progress at the expense of Chelsea, regardless of the West Londoners result at home to Nordsjaelland.
There is, then, a lot riding on this match, a point demonstrated by Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo’s decision to rest a number of key players for the club’s 2-1 Premier League defeat away to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, Juan Mata, Oscar and Ramires were all left out of the starting eleven and Di Matteo paid the price with a disjointed performance, albeit one that may have still yielded victory had Chelsea’s finishing been of a higher standard. All five players are highly likely to start on Tuesday.
Oscar will be particularly keen to take to the pitch at the Juventus Arena having impressed greatly during the 2-2 draw between the sides at Stamford Bridge earlier in the group stage.
Oscar scored both Chelsea goals that night, the second a real peach of a strike from just outside the area, and did a disciplined job picking up Juventus’s deep-lying playmaker Andrea Pirlo when the away side were in possession. Di Matteo is likely to give him the same task on Tuesday, one that is vital in stifling Juventus as an attacking force.
Pirlo will be well rested for the fixture having missed Juventus’ 0-0 home draw with Lazio on Saturday through suspension. Old Lady coach Antonio Conte did not take the liberty of willingly resting any of his other usual starters. He will be hopeful of being able to call on the services of Mirko Vucinic after illness prevented the striker from taking to the pitch against Lazio.
Oscar’s goals aside, Juventus’ 3-5-2 formation was actually quite effective in the first match between the sides. One of their central defenders was always able to step forward and aggressively intercept passes into the Chelsea striker Fernando Torres, safe in the knowledge that a further two would be covering if Torres got the better of him. This allowed them to stymy most of Chelsea’s attacks in their infancy before quickly moving forward themselves.
Originally conceived last season as a measure to counteract teams such as Napoli and Udinese who use similar formations, the 3-5-2 has steadily become Juventus’ default setup. Their players are now so well versed in it that they are able to exploit its advantages far more readily than most opponents are able to pick holes in its weaknesses.
It could be argued that Chelsea have improved as a team since the first encounter, with the now better acquainted Eden Hazard, Mata and Oscar providing guile and invention that will facilitate better ball retention and penetration in the offensive third then they were able to muster at Stamford Bridge.
However, defensive deficiencies have recently become more evident, especially so in the two matches against Shakhtar. Chelsea really struggled to account for the Ukrainian club’s use of width and runners from deep. These are facets of play Juventus are well poised to replicate with hard charging wing-backs and the well-timed forward runs of central midfielders Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal.
Juventus v Chelsea Betting Tips Verdict
Juventus will be desperate to secure a victory that would give them a fighting chance of qualifying for the knockout stages. Chelsea, on the other hand, will be determined to escape with the point that would allow them to enter the final round of matches knowing that victory at home to Nordsjaelland would be sufficient to progress to the last 16.
There is little between the teams and despite Juventus having home advantage we feel a tie is the most probable result.
- Back the draw @ best odds of 39/14 (which is just over 11/4) with Pinnacle.
- Juventus have made a habit of coming out of the blocks quickly in the Champions League so far this season, scoring 62.5% of their goals before half-time and 37.5% within the first half hour. With this in mind, we’d suggest backing the home team (Juventus) to score before the 43rd minute @ 5/6 with Bet365. You will find this in a market called “Time of 1st Team to score.”