Juventus v/s Chelsea
Roberto di Matteo finds himself under immense pressure as he takes his European Cup winning Chelsea side to the Juventus Stadium to face Juventus in the UEFA Champions League knowing that anything other than a victory against The Old Lady might just bring the axe down on him. The Italian had known just what he was stepping into when he stepped into the role left vacant after the sacking of Andre Villas Boas in mid-season, but even after winning the UEFA Champions League as well as the FA Cup, there are no guarantees that he will be sticking around at Stamford Bridge till the end of the season.
The English tabloids have been full of rumors over the last few weeks about the impedning arrival of former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola as the new manager and that has had its effects on the
Chelsea manager as he saw his side going from being undfeaated in eight games in their domestic league to winning just three of their last seven games. The Blues even suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at West Brom last Saturday in the Premier League and have already surrendered their lead at the top of the table, trailing the two Manchester clubs.
Juventus are also in scintillating form at home and having gone 49 matches unbeaten in Serie A, they suffered their first defeat to Inter Milan. But that seemed to have strengthened their resolve and they won their first match in the UEFA Champions League on the last match day and have consolidated their lead at the top of the league standings. Although they are still a point adrift of the leading pair of Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League standings, they are still favorites to make it through to the next round of the competition as they face Chelsea at home and Shakhtar away.
With Antonio Conte missing from the sidelines for four months and ready to make a comeback in December, the Juventus players want to give something their manager can fight for and the UEFA Champions League is being targeted as a true test of mettle for the side, considering the declining standards of the Italian domestic league.
However, with so much riding on Chelsea’s performance, only a fool would expect an easy match from them and playmaker Andrea Pirlo has already earmarked the importance of playing well and drawing first blood.