Champions League Preview: Chelsea vs. Juventus

UEFA Champions League 2008-09 - Chelsea vs. Juventus

This should be a great game between two very well organised and efficient sides. Juventus have got back to winning ways after surprise slip ups against Udinese and against Cagliari and I’m expecting a tough battle when these two sides meet at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night. It will be the first time Juve boss Claudio Ranieri has come up against his former employers (who sacked him in the most unfair of circumstances) and Ranieri would sure love to get one over Abramovich, adding that little bit of extra spice to this momentous occasion.

Guus Hiddink, Chelsea managerChelsea have just appointed a new manager in Guus Hiddink and their under-performing players stepped up too impress their new boss by beating Aston Villa at the weekend. This was no mean feat for Chelsea at Villa Park, the Birmingham side have been outstanding this season and stand a very real chance of qualifying for the Champions League themselves this season.

The Londoners have a wealth of talent at their disposal and last season’s beaten finalists will take some beating. Up-front Nicolas Anelka has been exceptional this season and he is probably the biggest threat in front of goal. Anelka does tend to drift in and out of games but all he needs is half a chance and a bit of space and he can make even the most accomplished of defenders look average. Didier Drogba has been disappointing this season but I think under Hiddink his performances will improve, it may be Anelka who is known as ‘le sulk’ but Drogba has been the one throwing tantrums this season, Hiddink’s success could hinge on whether he can settle Drogba so the game against Juve could well prove a turning point for the Ivorian international.

Frank LampardIn midfield Frank Lampard likes to get forward and is definitely a threat in front of goal. Michael Ballack still hasn’t impressed me since his move to the Premier League but on his fay he can be a decent player, it all just depends on which Ballack turns up. Solomon Kalou and Florent Malouda are, in my opinion anyway, very over-rated players and I’m fairly confident the Old Lady’s back four will be able to deal with those two.

Chelsea play a very narrow, intricate game and for me this is where their problems in attack lie. There just doesn’t seem to be any width to the team and if Juve can keep the pressure on and stop their full-backs getting forward, the Bianconeri will stand a decent chance of beating Hiddink’s men. Chelsea are still without Ricardo Carvalho and this is a massive absence for them: the Portuguese centre-back is a rock in the centre of Chelsea’s defence and stand-in Alex just is not of the same standard. Chelsea and England captain John Terry also looks a lot more comfortable with Carvalho beside him and I think Del Piero & Co. will fancy their chances a lot more with Carvalho missing.

If you’re thinking of having an online bet on the Champions League fixtures I think Juve will hold on for a draw in London, setting the tie up for a tense finale at the Stadio Olimpico. In the other ties on Wednesday I think Liverpool may nick a draw in Madrid and I will be backing Bayern Munich away at Sporting Lisbon with my own betting.


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Posted in English Premiership, Juventus, UEFA Champions League |

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