It’s back people, the drama, heartache and the twist of emotions that the European Champions League brings. Tomorrow evening Chelsea, the reigning European Champions (it still feels amazing writing that), face the Italian might of Juventus at Stamford Bridge.
Di Matteo has received a huge amount of criticism, including via myself, regarding his recent defensive starting line-up that he has started the season using, the same as he ended last season. We were all shocked that he once again he used Ryan Bertrand and Ramires on either wing against QPR at the weekend, whilst Moses and Oscar sat the bench.
Is Robbie now ready to change things around and tweak his own tactics? It would seem so yes, I understand that he is likely revert to his other preferred formation, the 4-3-3, in order to keep things tight in the middle. So I’m not sure if this a less defensive option, but at least it’s a change and we will not see Ramires struggling to make any impact out wide, or Bertrand playing out of position as a left winger.
Against a team like Juventus in the opening game of the Champions League, we must be cautious, so Di Matteo’s defensive mind will actually be useful this time. He is likely to use Lampard, Mikel and Ramires as the middle three, which looks very solid and also allows Lampard to do what he does best, attack. It should also open a gap for Oscar to appear fairly early in the game, if he does not start that is. After all, Lampard has had a lot of games recently, he will be tired, so that either means Oscar will play there, or he will certainly come on for Lampard.
Up top it is likely that we are looking at Torres, supported by Hazard and Mata either side. With these two creating chances, we should see a hungry Torres rather than a sulky one like we saw on Saturday.
At the back it still looks as if Ivanovic is the preferred choice at right back, which is who I would go for against the more attacking sides. But when we are facing teams like QPR, I want to see Azpilicueta starting. It will most likely be Luiz and Terry at the back, although I’d prefer Cahill. He’s been an absolute lion heart for us and was one of the main hero’s during last season’s Champions League campaign. He is under-rated and over-looked, not just by us, but by England as well.
I feel confident using this system against this team. But if you read my previous article titled ‘Negativity produces disappointing stalemate’, then you would see that unless we are facing a top side, I want to see a 4-2-3-1 formation using Oscar in a deeper role, with Mata, Hazard, Marin/Moses and Torres in the attacking roles. That will work, providing we coach discipline and defending as a unit, we must make recovery runs as a team and not rely on the defensive players.
I predict a close encounter, it will be tight and we will have to be patient, don’t expect an explosive game. But we’ll win it 1-0, with Oscar scoring around 75 minutes.
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Simon Phillips – News Editor