Who: Chelsea FC at Juventus FC
What: UEFA Champions League Group Stage
Where: Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy
When: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast
Time: 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET/11:45 a.m. PT
TV: Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Deportes (USA)/Sky Sports Event Centre (UK)
Worldwide Live Streams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 94
Referee: Cüneyt Çakır
2-Way Odds: Chelsea +200, Juventus -250
2-Way 0.5 Goal Odds: Chelsea +½ +105, Juventus -½ -125
3-Way Odds: Chelsea +330, Juventus -125, Draw +275
Total: Over 2½ -130, Under 2½ +110
Source: LVH SuperBook, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Decimal Odds: Chelsea 3.90, Juventus 1.83, Draw 3.70
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.80, Under 2½ 1.90
Fractional Odds: Chelsea 29/10, Juventus 83/100, Draw 27/10
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 4/5, Under 2½ 9/10
To Win Champions League: Chelsea 14/1, Juventus 18/1
Source: sportsbook.com (Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles)
To say that Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League Group E match between Chelsea and host Juventus is a big game would be an understatement of epic proportions.
For Chelsea it’s pretty much a must-win or must-draw situation in the group, while for Juventus, a loss means the Old Lady will be most likely be playing on Thursdays in the Europa League this spring.
When these two met in the tournament opener on September 19 at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea saw a 2-0 lead evaporate and had to settle for a 2-2 draw on a late Bianconeri goal from Fabio Quagliarella.
Little did Roberto Di Matteo and the Blues know back then that having to settle for one point instead of getting all three would end up putting so much pressure on them for the remainder of the tournament.
Shakhtar Donetsk plays at FCN on Tuesday and is a heavy favorite (-330) to win the match, and with its probable victory there, the team will lock up its spot in the knockout stage with 10 points and just have one more game to go in the group stage.
If Chelsea and Shakhtar can both win here on Matchday Five, then both will advance to the round of 16.
Chelsea will be paying its first visit to the new Juventus Stadium—rebuilt on the site of the Stadio Delle Alpi in the foothills of the Alps—and is 5-4-3 in its last 12 away games in Champions League play, but has just one win in its last six games in the tourney against Italian opposition (1-2-3).
Juventus—winners of Serie A last season with an undefeated 23-15-0 mark thanks in great part to a stingy defense and the superb goalkeeping of Gianluigi Buffon—has just one win against English opposition in its last 14 games (1-6-7) and has tied five of its last six home matches against English foes.
The Blues, who are 1-2-0 in its last three games against the Bianconeri, will certainly be able to live with a draw in this one with its final group stage game being against FCN in West London (December 5).
A loss for the defending European champions along with the likely Shakhtar win will mean that Juventus will only need to secure one point on Matchday Six at Shakhtar to finish ahead of the Blues in head-to-head results.
So playing its best game, doing all the little things right and possibly getting a little luck along the way on Tuesday in Turin will be imperative for Chelsea, whose last win on Italian soil came nine years ago against Lazio in Rome (4-0).
The Blues have been scuffling a bit lately and have earned just two points in their last four English Premier League games (0-2-2) and if not for a last-second, game-winning header by Victor Moses against Shakhtar at home, would be in even more trouble mathematically than they are now, heading into this showdown.
Defensively, Chelsea will need to work extremely hard to try to keep the two strikers Quagliarella and Sebastian Giovinco, as well as 33-year-old playmaker extraordinaire Andrea Pirlo, in check in the Old Lady’s 3-5-2 formation.
Quagliarella has five goals in his last five matches.
In his 4-2-3-1 formation, Di Matteo—who has had to face some unfair rumors about his job security after Saturday’s 2-1 loss at West Bromwich Albion—will likely start Ashley Cole, David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanović in his back line with John Obi Mikel and Ramires probably in the defensive midfield.
Who Di Matteo chooses to start in the advanced midfield and at striker will be important but it’s logical that Juan Mata and Oscar—the tourney’s co-second-leading scorer with four goals—will make his starting XI.
Eden Hazard, Moses and even Ryan Bertrand—whom Di Matteo started against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final—are all candidates for that third AMF spot while either Fernando Torres or Daniel Sturridge will get the call at the striker spot.
Oddsmakers have made Chelsea the biggest underdog (+200, two-way betting; +330 three-way betting) in all competitions this season so the combination of recent tepid play and historical trends away from home in Europe reveals this to be a really tough spot for the Blues.
But Chelsea should be used to coming through when the chips are down away from home as its semifinal and final games at Barcelona and Bayern showed this spring.
And if the Blues can find a way to score first and quiet the rowdy Juventus Stadium crowd early, then a win or a draw is a strong possibility with superman Petr Čech in goal.
In the end, this one should leave Chelsea fans either ecstatic or exasperated.
Let’s hope for the former.
PROJECTED JUVENTUS LINEUP: Gianluigi Buffon; Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli; Kwadwo Asamoah, Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Stephan Lichtsteiner; Fabio Quagliarella, Sebastian Giovinco.
PROJECTED CHELSEA LINEUP: Petr Čech; Ashley Cole, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanović; Ramires, John Obi Mikel; Eden Hazard, Oscar, Juan Mata; Fernando Torres.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 1, Juventus 1
BETS: Draw +275, Under 2½ +110
>Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11