Chelsea head to Turin knowing they need a positive result to keep their hopes of Champions League progression in their own hands, but the Blues travel to Italy with one win from the last seven games. Juventus showed their quality with an Andrea Pirlo-led fightback in a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge in September and with the playmaker back from suspension, Chelsea will need to avoid similar dominance by the Italian on his home turf. talkSPORT look at the key battles ahead of the tie, and predict possible line-ups...
Fabio Quagliarella v David Luiz
Chelsea and Juventus share a similar problem in attack, with neither team able to call upon a prolific goalscorer to compliment their excellent midfields, but recently things have looked more promising for the Italians in that regard. Fabio Quagliarella has five goals in his last five games and his combination of pace, the kind of movement that constantly irritates central defenders, while packing a powerful shot, makes him a difficult opponent to play against. Chelsea have witnessed his killer instinct first hand when the Italian pounced on John Terry's botched attempt to play the offside trap to score Juve's equaliser at Stamford Bridge. With Terry out, David Luiz could be tasked with marking the forward and with the Brazilian often naïve in his positioning, he'll need to make sure he has his eye on the Juve man at all times. Quagliarella's movement could give Luiz real problems and his pace could be equally troubling if the defender is caught out bombing forward in an effort to break Juventus down.
Juan Mata v Andrea Pirlo
With rumours Eden Hazard could play in the false no.9 role, Juan Mata is a candidate to interchange with Oscar in the middle of Chelsea's attacking midfield three and aside from Hazard's low defensive work rate, there may be another tactical reason for putting Mata in that position. It's well known that Andrea Pirlo punishes opponents when given space to work in, but during the Euro 2012 final, Spain were effective in reducing his influence in the 4-0 drubbing. Then, Xavi was tasked with pressing Pirlo as soon as the Italian received possession and, as a result, Spain moved the ball from defence to attack quickly once the Barcelona man had robbed him, as evidenced in Spain's third goal, scored by Fernando Torres. Mata has all the attributes to do a similar job with Chelsea and certainly knows how to press an opponent effectively from his time with his national side. The question is whether Chelsea's other attackers can make effective use of anything Mata feeds them with.
Kwadwo Asamoah v Branislav Ivanovic
A midfielder by trade, Asamoah has been deployed as a wing-back by Juventus as part of their 3-5-2 system. His engine means he's likely to get down the left flank often, forcing whoever plays at right-back for Chelsea to keep an eye on him throughout. Ivanovic has struggled against quicker players in the past and seemed to suffer against the Juve wing-backs in the group stage game at Stamford Bridge. He isn't particularly comfortable on the ball, either, so expect Asamoah to put plenty of pressure on the Serbia man in an effort to force an error.
How it could be decided:
Juventus were disappointed with their slow start at Stamford Bridge, and with Andrea Pirlo back from suspension and the home fans to please, the Italians will likely try and force errors from Chelsea as soon as the referee blows his whistle to start the game. David Luiz will need to be alert to Quagliarella's intelligent movement, while Branislav Ivanovic will have a real task in attempting to contain Kwado Asamoah. Chelsea could move Ivanovic to a more central position and bring in the quicker and more technically capable Cesar Azplicueta at right-back, but Roberto Di Matteo may see that as too much, too soon, and make the more conservative decision to preserve the Serbian on the right side of defence. To state the obvious, the game could be won or lost depending on how Pirlo plays, or rather, how Chelsea allow him to play. Much will also depend on how Chelsea's striker and other attackers finish the chances Mata and co. provide them with, but with no prolific goalscorer and the absence of John Terry, Chelsea will need some of their new generation to prove their worth in Turin.
Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Cole, Mikel, Ramires, Cesar, Mata, Oscar, Hazard
Buffon, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini, Isla, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah, Quagliarella, Giovinco
Will Chelsea get the result they need in Turin, and should Roberto Di Matteo give Azpilicueta the nod and move Ivanovic into the middle? Leave a comment below...