Juventus will travel to Stamford Bridge as the underdogs but the “Old Lady’ have European success in their blood. They reached three consecutive Champion’s League finals in the nineties and will be looking to make up for lost time.
One only has to look at the inspired Italian national side that played in the final of Euro 2012 – that team consisted of a Juventus back line along with a decent portion of their midfield too.
The Italians were perhaps not the best team of Euro 2012, nor did they possess the most exciting flair players and the strikers that crowds ‘ooh’ and ‘aaah’ at. But one thing they did show was resilience, and that, when coupled with their experience, made them a formidable opponent and a difficult team to break down.
However, Serie A football has been gracing the front pages of the Italian press almost as often as the back pages, as exposes of scandal and corruption besmirched their game.
Juventus coach Antonio Conte is currently appealing a 10-month ban for his alleged involvement in match fixing – a ban that will see him assigned to the stands at Stanford Bridge tonight.
Conte is the man behind, not only Juventus’ resurgence but in some capacity, the Italian resurgence too. As the ex-captain of the Juve side that won five Serie A titles, a Champion’s League, a UEFA Cup, and a UEFA Super Cup he knows what it takes to win – and his philosophy has now been bread into the current Juve side.
Conte likes his teams to play out from the back – a compact unit that passes short and plays around the opposition and in Andrea Pirlo the team has the creative spark to devastate teams – his vision and passing accuracy often providing a master class in front of the Turin fans.
Their only weakness is a well-publicized lack of a dominant striker. They have the ability to create a wealth of chances in front of goal but, as of yet, have failed to really make them count at the finish.
This could prove to be their downfall tonight against the champions of Europe. Chelsea are a solid team that still contains a familiar back line in Cech, Terry, Ivanovic, and Cole. It seems unlikely that they will allow Juve an array of inviting chances on goal. Juve will have to be clinical when they get their opportunities if they intend to beat the Blues.
At the other end Chelsea have world-class forwards – Fernando Torres has found his shooting boots this season and, with his creative compatriot Juan Mata as his provider, he looks likely to become unstoppable. Throw into the mix Eden Hazard and the Juve defence, whilst adept and experienced, may find themselves in a spot of bother.
image: © mitsurinho