And so it begins… the familiarity of the Champions League group stage is nothing everybody involved with the club is unaccustomed to, but the opening fixture against the black and whites stripes of Juventus finds the team in unprecedented territory as defending European champions.

Roberto Di Matteo remains realistic in the build up to the group stage first tie with his admission of giving his winners medal to his father as the future of the club is his main concern.

That focus is directed towards the available three points today, as although the victory in May stokes immeasurable memories to reminisce in the future, the ambition is to achieve the impossible and be the first team to successfully defend their European crown, since the modern Champions League began.

A feat never before seen is not to be winced at, neither should an attitude of too difficult a challenge to achieve be obliging. Winning the beautiful trophy with the big ears once is tough, and winning back to back titles is even harder, but to achieve the unsurpassable intentions need to be drawn and warnings to be flicked out to opponents and there is opportunity to do so early, against the Italian champions Juventus.

Juventus are veterans of European football and after a two year hiatus, the two time European champions will also be eager to impress and lay their marker in the group.

The current invincibles of Italian football are a different outfit to the last who graced the competition. Throughout the squad there is strength in depth, particularly in defence and midfield, with a mixture of physical presence an craftsmanship.

Their defence is salwart and organised and compact with the muscular Chiellini, suported by the ever present Gigi Buffon.

The midfield has a great deal of industry in Asamoah and Vidal, the passion of Marchisio and of course the enigma and dictatorship of Andrea Pirlo.

The attacking branch underlines Juventus’ shortcomings. Vucinic is versatile and skillful, while Giovinco is petit in size but massive in technical ability, but further than that are Matri and Arsenal loanee Bendtner where none of the forward line share an abundance of goals between them.

The biggest threat however is from the the team as a unit. This weekend’s victory away to Genoa saw them extend their undefeated league run to 42 matches, yet at one nil and looking unlikely to score, Juventus fashioned a way to win.

Throughout last season the old lady were tactically astute, managing transitions of formations from 4-2-4 to 4-3-3 and 3-5-2 to 3-4-3 during the season and sometimes in a game.

Clearly Juventus pose the biggest threat in toppling Chelsea to winning the group and this will be the biggest test of the season to date, but if Chelsea are to make the impossible possible, then victory at Stamford Bridge will nominate the defending champions as credible candidates to do so.

Facebook Comments