Roberto Di Matteo’s quest to become the first man to guide a team to back-to-back Champions League titles begins at Stamford Bridge tonight, against a Juventus team who are still acclimatising to matchdays without their manager.
Chelsea have an excellent home record in the group stages of the Champions League and have begun the season well although their thrashing by Atletico Madrid in the European Super Cup, showed vulnerabilities.
Juventus have started the season well, winning all three league games as well as securing a 4-2 extra time victory over Napoli in the Italian Super Cup.
TV: Sky Sports 2
25/02/2009 – Chelsea 1-0 Juventus (Drogba 13)
10/03/2009 – Juventus 2-2 Chelsea (Iaquinta 19, Essien 45, Del Piero 74, Drogba 83)
Chelsea’s only major injury concern is new signing Marko Marin, who has not yet recovered full match fitness. There is speculation that following a less than impressive performance against QPR, Fernando Torres may be replaced in the starting line-up by Daniel Sturridge.
Juventus will be without coach Antonio Conte who is serving a ten-month ban for his role in not reporting match-fixing, but have no major injury problems. Mirko Vucinic and Kwadwo Asamoah, who were on the bench for the 3-1 win over Genoa at the weekend, look set to return.
Chelsea: Eden Hazard – Many questioned whether the £32m arrival would be able to replicate his sparkling form for Lille in the Premier League but the Belgian has made a promising start to his time at Stamford Bridge. However Hazard faces the toughest match so far in his Chelsea career against Juventus and he will be out to prove himself.
Juventus: Andrea Pirlo – Arguably the player of Euro 2012 and one of the best midfielders of his generation, Pirlo’s move to Juventus last season reinvigorated the Italian and brought Scudetto success to the club for the first time in nine years. Running the game from his deep-lying midfield position, he will be a major threat to Chelsea.
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 26 Champions League group stage games at home (20 wins, six draws)
Juventus have picked up the most red cards in the Champions League: 19 (since 1992/93)
Juventus are making their 13th appearance in the Champions League and their first since the 2009/10 season. Only AC Milan have made more appearances among Italian sides.
This is Chelsea’s 10th consecutive participation in the Champions League. They’ve reached the semi-finals six times and the final twice, winning it for the first time in their history last season.