It was a tough time of it when Juventus made their way to London a week and a half ago for its Champions League matchup with Chelsea.
Didier Drogba’s 12th minute goal allowed Chelsea to sit back and grind out a 1-0 win despite a second half push from the Old Lady.
But now Juve hope some home cooking will work its magic as they look to get things going once again and reach the quarterfinals Tuesday night in Turin.
1. Will Juve be able to play a full 90 minutes?
It sounds cliché, but it’s been the problem in every game Juve has played the past two months and change.
A slow start in London allowed Chelsea to get a quick lead and just sit back and defend the one-goal margin. A vital away goal was never claimed and because of it, Tuesday’s game is a must-win and anything other than a great game will mean the bianconeri will be watching the quarter finals from their couches.
That means no defensive lapses, capitalizing on any kind of opportunities in front of the Chelsea goal, and the big-time players coming through when they are needed the most.
And it won’t just be the players who will be under the microscope. Manager Claudio Ranieri will have to press all the right buttons if he wants to keep the Old Lady’s Champions League hopes alive.
2. Can the midfield get any kind of service to the forwards?
The midfield was a key in the first leg’s preview, and it will again be a key if Juventus want to move on.
Juve failed to get any kind of consistent service to forwards Alessandro Del Piero and Amauri and it showed on the scoreboard.
But now Juve need goals and can’t rely solely on the long ball to get the forwards involved in the game.
Momo Sissoko wasn’t very impressive and Tiago barely got involved at all, so Ranieri might turn to Claudio Marchisio, who was a spark of the bench in the first leg, to be in charge of getting the offense going.
The combination in the center of the midfield Ranieri uses from the opening whistle will be vital in determining how the Tinkerman will be managing the game.
3. Who will play alongside Del Piero up front — Amauri or Trezeguet?
Another key aspect from the first leg is even more important this time around with Juve needing to win by two goals to advance to the quarter finals.
Amauri is still in a funk offensively and didn’t do anything in London, so Ranieri will have to choose between the Brazilian and the still rounding into form David Trezeguet.
The Frenchmen has been productive when he has been on the field since his return from a double knee operation.
There is no doubting the kind of connection that Del Piero and Trezeguet have developed over their years together in Turin, and considering Juve need goals, that special connection might be called into action from the start.
4. Can Cristian Molinaro have a positive impact?
The man that Juve fans love to hate struggled all night at Stamford Bridge on the left side of the defense.
When the starting lineups were announced, many thought it would be Olof Mellberg on the opposite side of the defense who struggled, but it was Molinaro who Chelsea went at from the first whistle and didn’t stop.
But he won’t just have to have a good defensive game for Juve to win.
With a lot of Juve’s offense out on the wing, Molinaro’s crosses will have to be on point if the ball wants to find the back of the net.
And as many of the Juve faithful know, that’s not one of his strong points.
5. Can Giorgio Chiellini be the beast like he has been so many times before?
The big man in Juve’s defense other than goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, Chiellini had an off night in London and has struggled to get to last season’s form this year.
His passing was atrocious at Stamford Bridge and he just doesn’t seem to be the same kind of player he was in the big games last year. But if Juve wants to advance, they will need to rock to stop any kind of Chelsea attack.
Drogba has rediscovered his form under Guus Hiddink, scoring two goals in his past three games, and shutting him down could be Chiellini’s main role.
There is no room for error and a Chelsea goal in Turin will put a nail in the Old Lady’s coffin.
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