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Preview: Juventus vs. Chelsea - prediction, team news, lineups
29/09/2021 13:42:19

Champions League holders Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from last weekend's defeat against Manchester City, when they travel to face Juventus on Wednesday night (8:00PM, 29 Sept).

The Italian giants, meanwhile, are aiming to claim their fourth victory in five matches across all competitions as well as extend their unbeaten record against the Blues to four games.

We say: Juventus 0-1 Chelsea

One of Chelsea's strengths that has been evident since Tuchel took charge has been their defensive stability. Juventus themselves are usually known for their qualities at the back, though in 2021 they have looked surprisingly vulnerable, keeping only one clean sheet in their last 21 games across all competitions.

Wednesday's encounter will be one considered by both sides as a 'must not lose' if they are to clinch top spot in Group H. A closely-fought contest is set to be played out in Turin, however we can see the Blues securing a slender victory.

Match preview

After failing to win each of their opening four Serie A matches, with Massimiliano Allegri overseeing one of the club's worst starts in 60 years, Juventus have since bounced back with successive 3-2 league victories against Spezia and Sampdoria.

Manuel Locatelli scored his first goal for the club to put the Italian giants 3-1 ahead against Sampdoria last weekend, before the visitors pulled one back in the 83rd minute through former Juve midfielder Antonio Candreva, to make it a nervy ending for the hosts. However, Juve held on to claim three much-needed points, which has helped them climb into the top half of the table.

In the midst of their disappointing domestic start, Juventus won their opening Champions League match in Group H earlier this month, securing a comfortable 3-0 victory away against Swedish outfit Malmo.

Their next opponent in Europe's elite club competition could arguably not be any tougher, as they face holders Chelsea, who have lost only three of their last 32 Champions League group stage games. Juve did, however, win their most recent meeting against the Blues, claiming a 3-0 home victory during the 2012-13 group stage, the year after Chelsea claimed their first ever Champions League crown.

In fact, the Italians have an impressive record against holders of the Champions League or the European Cup as it used to be known. Juve have won seven times, including four of their last five on home soil, with only Real Madrid (11) winning more in the competition's history.

Juventus lost their last Champions League game against English opposition, suffering a 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester United in November 2018. The Old Lady have never lost successive games against English teams and if they avoid defeat on Wednesday, then they will have a good chance of topping Group F by the end of this year.

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea side headed into their mouth-watering clash against Manchester City last weekend confident that they could secure their fourth successive win against the reigning Premier League champions. However, the Blues were brought back down to earth as Pep Guardiola's side produced an excellent performance at Stamford Bridge, coming away with a 1-0 victory.

The German head coach will not need to go back to the drawing board, though Sunday's defeat is a gentle reminder of the task his side face in not only retaining their European crown, but also challenging for the Premier League title against such strong opposition.

Chelsea began their defence of the Champions League with a slender 1-0 victory over Zenit St Petersburg earlier this month, with Romelu Lukaku heading in the only goal of the game and his fourth of the campaign.

As previously mentioned, the Blues have an excellent record in the group stage and Tuchel also boasts an equally impressive win ratio of 68%, the third-highest of any manager in the competition to have taken charge of at least 20 group-stage matches, behind only Jupp Heynckes (73%) and Guardiola (71%).

Chelsea, however, travel to Turin on Wednesday after losing each of their last four Champions League away games against Italian opposition, with all four defeats against a different opponent. Losses to Inter Milan in 2009-10 and Napoli in 2011-12 were followed by defeats against Juve in 2012-13 and Roma in 2017-18.

After their midweek clash with Juve, the Blues have a more favourable run of fixtures on paper over the next month, so a positive result at the Juventus Stadium would be a great way for Tuchel's men to kickstart a strong run of form across all fronts.

Team News

Juventus were dealt a major blow this weekend as forwards Alvaro Morata and Paolo Dybala limped off against Sampdoria with respective hamstring and thigh injuries, with the latter leaving the pitch in tears.

Allegri may be tempted to switch from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-3-3 system as a result, with striker Moise Kean joined in attack by wingers Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski.

Former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was dropped to the bench last weekend after a string of poor performances between the sticks in recent weeks. Mattia Perin was handed a start at his expense and the Italian could keep his place on Wednesday.

Despite starting at the weekend, Matthijs de Ligt – who has been linked with a move to Chelsea – could be replaced in the first XI by 37-year-old Giorgio Chiellini who, after starting on the bench against Sampdoria, is expected play alongside Leonardo Bonucci at the heart of the defence.

As for Chelsea, French midfielder N'Golo Kante has been ruled out after testing positive for coronavirus. The 30-year-old will also miss Saturday's Premier League game against Southampton.

The Blues are also without right wing-back Reece James who was forced off in the first half against Man City after twisting his ankle.

Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to replace the 21-year-old, while Thiago Silva is set to join Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger in the back three.

In addition, midfielder Mason Mount and winger Christian Pulisic, who both missed last weekend's game, will not feature on Wednesday as they continue to recover from minor injuries.

Arguably Tuchel's main dilemma in midweek will be with who he decides to start in central midfield. Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and Saul Niguez are the three most likely candidates, though only two may start the match if Tuchel decides to play with three attacking players up front.

German duo Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, who began on the bench against Zenit, could be handed starts alongside central striker Romelu Lukaku.

Juventus possible starting lineup:

Perin; Danilo, Chiellini, Bonucci, Sandro; Bentancur, Locatelli, Ramsey; Chiesa, Kean, Kulusevski

Chelsea possible starting lineup:

Mendy; Christensen, T. Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kovacic, Jorginho, Alonso; Havertz, Lukaku, Werner

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