UEFA Champions League: Can Juventus Escape Daunting Group E?
On Wednesday night, Juventus did what they had to do: beat FC Nordsjaelland and obtain three points to remain alive in the hunt for one of the two top spots in Group E that qualify for the next stage of the UEFA Champions League.
The hope in Turin was that Shakhtar would be able to either hold the current European champions to a draw or even beat them, so that Juventus would move above Chelsea in the standings.
That didn't happen though, and as a result, the Italian champions now find themselves trailing both Chelsea and Shakhtar by a single point.
Shakhtar has been a surprising force in Group E, almost getting the win in the Juventus Stadium before easily disposing of Chelsea at home. The Ukrainians had a chance to take a commanding lead in the group, but failed to get past the English side in their rematch.
Chelsea remain somewhat of an enigma. They can play very good football for about 30 minutes before they stink up the joint for the remainder of the game. On the other hand, they have a lot of Champions League experience and always seem to play their best football in Europe when everything is on the line.
Some people might label them as "lucky," but no team has this much luck. Forcing a score late in the game or overcoming a team that seems to have your number is a quality that only great teams possess.
Will Juventus survive Group E?
So, are Juventus in trouble?
The answer is really simple, and would have been the same regardless of the outcome of the game played in London:
If you're one of those glass-half-full types, you might even say that a Chelsea win is exactly what Juventus should have hoped for.
No matter what happens, Juventus still control their own destiny. If they beat Chelsea and play Shakhtar to a draw, they're through to the next round.
Beat Shakhtar and draw Chelsea: same result.
Beat both teams, and Juventus emerges victorious from the group.
The task at hand for the Bianconeri will not be an easy one, but there is no reason to panic either. Shakhtar and Chelsea are quality teams, but so are Juventus. Everyone inside the Bianconeri organisation knew that at least one of these teams had to be beaten in order to secure a spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
That fact hasn't changed. The only thing that has changed is that Juventus can no longer afford to make any mistakes. They can't lose a single game, or they'll most likely be condemned to the lowly Europa league.
Chelsea and Shakhtar should both beat FC Nordsjaelland, so La Vecchia Signora can't count on any help coming from the Danish side. It will be up to the Italian champions themselves to force their way in to the next round.
Football is a strange game, and anything can happen. If Juventus play up to their potential, starting with Chelsea in two weeks, qualification should be theirs for the taking.
To quote the late great Al Davis: "Just win, baby."
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