Chelsea face a tough trip to Italian champions Juventus this evening in Group E of the Champions League.
The group is very tight with Chelsea and Shakhtar currently topping the group and Juve just a point behind.
Should the Blues win then they would progress to the last 16 of the competition.
Chelsea are currently going through a bad run of form in the Premier League, after making a blistering start and playing some breathtaking football at the start of the season.
The Blues suffered a surprise away loss to West Brom last time out and they don’t look like the same team that topped the table just a few short weeks ago.
This current run of form is the first real test that Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo has had to face as Chelsea boss. Up until now everything has gone the Italian and Chelsea’s way since he was first appointed caretaker boss.
They somehow won the Champions League in May, against all odds and he was declared a hero. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wasn’t believed to be keen on appointing Di Matteo on a permanent basis, but after they clinched the Champions League trophy it didn’t seem like he had a choice.
Di Matteo must halt this poor run of form before it gets to crisis stage. He went through a terrible run of form at former-club West Brom and ended up being dismissed, after he had also made a shining start to his Baggies career.
One of the Chelsea’s biggest problems at the moment is record signing Fernando Torres. He just isn’t giving the team enough at the moment. Torres was once one of the most feared strikers in world football. He is now looking a shadow of his former-self.
It’s sad to see such a once great footballer struggling like he is at the moment. His confidence looks shot to pieces and it’s doubtful that Torres will ever get back to the striker that struck fear into the heart of centre-backs all over the world.
This season should have been when his fortunes changes. He is no longer competing with Didier Drogba for that lone striker role and he enjoyed a fairly successful Euro 2012 with his country.
Unfortunately, this season he hasn’t rediscovered his best form and at times looked like he didn’t even want to be on a football pitch.
The Spaniard’s form has now led to a dilemma for Di Matteo. Chelsea currently only has two out and out strikers in their first team squad, Torres and England striker Daniel Sturridge. The Italian has suggested that Torres could be dropped for tonight’s crunch clash with Juve.
However, if Torres was dropped from the starting line-up then Di Matteo would have to rely on the inconsistent Sturridge to lead he attack. That’s a big ask for a player that has hardly played a game for the Chelsea first team this season.
Juventus are a really hard team to beat and have some very good defenders in the likes of Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini, to mention just two. Sturridge would endure a difficult night against the Juventus defence.
Even out-of-form I believe that Fernando Torres would be a better option to start with against the Italian champions.
Chelsea will be hoping that talented attacking midfield trio Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata rediscover their sparkling form from earlier in the season. Oscar’s best performances so far for the club have come in the Champions League, with him producing a memorable brace in the reverse fixture. Chelsea fans will be hoping for a repeat of that feat in Italy.
Hazard hit the ground running in the Premier League and produced some dazzling displays in the early months of the season. He has enjoyed a quieter last month or so though and needs to rediscover that early season form.
Juan Mata struggled for form at the start of the season. However a month ago he was the British top flights player of the month. His form has dropped in the last few games, but the Spanish international is always capable of producing a moment of magic.
I’m sure Roberto Di Matteo is feeling quite tense at this moment in time. He always knew that that Roman Abramovich would expect results at both home and abroad, or he would face the sack.
Di Matteo isn’t a favourite of the Russian oligarch and with Pep Guardiola currently out of a job the Italian knows results must improve. Without the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard tonight the team could struggle.
This is the sort of night you need leaders and the pair leaders. I’m sure Di Matteo would have wanted those players out on the pitch. The Italian knows that this is a must not-lose game.
With the Blues hosting Manchester City this weekend the next few games could define the future of Roberto Di Matteo and Chelsea Football Club.
Can Chelsea defeat Juventus to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League?