18th September 2012
Chelsea can finally relax having won that elusive Champions League title, but a positive result against Serie A champions Juventus would certainly help the team get back on the right track following two under-par showings. The Bianconeri, on the other hand, return to Europe’s premium competition after two years, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try to go all the way this term.
The squad rejuvenation process started by Andre Villas-Boas was continued by his successor Roberto Di Matteo, with a number of very talented youngsters joining the club this summer. Some of them have already helped the team a great deal in the opening exchanges, while others have yet to make a real impact, but the Blues have every reason to feel optimistic about their chances this season. Chelsea’s three-match winning run came to an abrupt end as they were hammered by Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, while the goalless draw against Queens Park Rangers did little to improve the atmosphere prior to the Juventus clash. The hosts have received some good news as John Terry has resumed full training after recovering from a knee injury, with David Luiz and Gary Cahill vying for the second place in the heart of defence. Juan Mata returns after he was rested at the weekend, whereas Marko Marin remains the only long-term casualty.
Juventus’ European exile proved to be a real blessing in disguise last season given that the Bianconeri were able to fully focus on domestic competitions, which saw them pip Milan to the Serie A trophy. The club chiefs have done well to ensure the team remain competitive at the biggest stage, with the likes of Asamoah, Isla, Giovinco, Lucio and Bendtner all arriving in the summer. As it was expected, the Old Lady hit the ground running instantly, going on to win all three league games following the Italian Super Cup triumph over Napoli, so they can be forgiven for feeling confident before the match at Stamford Bridge. There are no novelties in the 23-man squad that has traveled to London, although Mirko Vucinic, Arturo Vidal, Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephen Lichtsteiner are back in the starting line-up.
Chelsea may be the reigning European champions, but they are not playing to their potential at the moment and are still trying to recover from the heavy defeat to Atletico Madrid. Juventus, on the other hand, are brimming with confidence following the impressive start to the season and with their key players well rested, I am positive the Bianconeri can avoid defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Verdict: Double chance on Juventus
Best Odds: 8/11
Bookmaker: Stan James