Juventus offer reigning champions Chelsea stern test in spite of Antonio Conte's absence

 

Juventus believe they have a team to compete again with the finest in Europe, but when they face Chelsea tonight their players will be unable to turn to the man who shaped the side's renaissance.

Antonio Conte has yet to see his team beaten in a league game since he took charge before last season, but the defeat he experienced this summer is likely to prove far more painful than any scars suffered during 27 years as a player and a manager.

When the two coaching teams make for the Stamford Bridge dug-outs, it will not be Conte but caretaker Massimo Carrera in the vanguard for the Italian champions. Conte is in the early stages of a 10-month touchline ban he received from the Italian football federation for failing to report match-fixing when he was in charge of Siena in the 2010-11 campaign.

Juve have appealed against Conte's suspension but at the moment he is restricted only to preparing his players and selecting the team. He will watch tonight's game from the stands after Fifa extended the punishment to matches worldwide.

Despite the absence of Conte, Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo - his sometime team-mate for Italy during the 1990s - will understand the challenge Juventus present. Although Italy's clubs are not as strong as they were, Juve's 42-match unbeaten run merits substantial respect.

Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon are the most high-profile players but Claudio Marchisio also provides energy and intelligence in midfield. Mirko Vucinic and Sebastian Giovinco are subtle and elusive attackers, and Italy players Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli are among the best defenders in their country.

Giuseppe Marotta, the man in charge of transfers at Juventus, could not deliver the centre-forward of international renown that the club coveted all summer. Juventus pursued Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez, Fernando Llorente and Stevan Jovetic but ended up only with Nicklas Bendtner, who is on loan from Arsenal.

It will be fascinating to see how the players handle Conte's absence on match-days. Three Serie A matches have yielded three wins but defeating the reigning European champions is a different matter altogether.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...