UEFA Champions League: 3 Ways Juventus Can Beat Chelsea in Turin
Things are heating up in the UEFA Champions League as we get down to the business end of the group stage. And whilst teams right across the competition are locked on similar points with "must-win" matches ahead of them, no clash is perhaps more decisive than Juventus vs Chelsea in Group E.
It is a battle of European heavyweights. The reigning European Champions are up against the reigning Italian champions, and if their clash on matchday 1 is anything to go by, this reverse fixture could go down as one of the greats in Champions League history.
After a dramatic last-gasp win against Shakthar Donetsk, Chelsea come into this match looking to secure their position in the knockout phase of the competition. However, they will attempt to do so at the expense of a resolute Bianconeri side who have never lost at the new Juventus stadium in the Champions League.
With just one point separating both sides and the Bianconeri currently sitting out of contention for the next round, here's what Angelo Alessio's side can do to take down Chelsea.
Drop Deep in the Midfield to Close Down Mata, Oscar and Hazard
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Juventus characteristically play with a five-pronged midfield, with Pirlo, Vidal and Marchisio controlling the centre of the park. Despite this, it is often Pirlo who drops deep whilst his counterparts push forward. However, as was the case in their away leg at Stamford Bridge and as was the case against Shakhtar Donetsk, the Bianconeri fell vulnerable in this area between the defence and midfield.
Chelsea will most likely present Fernando Torres upfront, with Mata, Hazard and Oscar playing in behind the Spaniard. For Juventus—who play with a back three—this could prove vulnerable. As such, the need to stress the importance of having Marchisio and Vidal drop alongside Pirlo more often is paramount.
Considering that Oscar netted twice against Juventus first time around, the gauntlet has been thrown down. Close him and them (Mata and Hazard) down, or face the prospect of leaking goals.
Prevent Long Shots at All Costs
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Following on from the need to drop deep in the midfield is the need for Angelo Alessio's side to close down shots from outside the box. Why? Well, the reality is that 75 percent of all of Juventus' goals conceded in this year's competition have come from outside the area, not to mention Oscar's delicate double in the fixture at Stamford Bridge.
For the most part, it will be about closing down Chelsea's magic three, but it would be naive of the Bianconeri to leave it at that. Chelsea are unique in the sense that they have the likes of David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic in defence who are able to test keepers from long range. It will be left to Juve's wing-backs to to ensure Buffon is safeguarded from such shots.
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Rewind back two seasons, and Fabio Quagliarella was touted as Juventus' "go-to" man. However, a season-ending injury against Chievo sidelined the Italian International for almost a year, and it is fair to say that since then, he has never really been able to recapture the form that made him one of the most feared strikers in Italy.
This season, Quagliarella has set out to make a point, and following an equaliser against Chelsea in the first leg and a hat trick against Pescara, he has certainly made a claim for a starting spot in Alessio's side.
Against Chelsea, Quagliarella came off the bench to earn Juventus a point away to the Blues. He also had all Chelsea supporter's hearts in their mouths as his "turn-and-shoot" effort scraped over the bar in the dying minutes of the match.
Alongside Sebastian Giovinco's creativity, Quagliarella might just give us a glimpse of his best form against Roberto Di Matteo's side.