Juventus are vying to secure top spot in Group H when they travel to Stamford Bridge to take on European champions Chelsea on Tuesday night.
The Bianconeri have begun their Champions League campaign with a perfect record, having won their opening four games in Group H, including a 1-0 victory over the Blues on Matchday 2. Thus, Juve need just a point to qualify for the round of 16 as group winners.
They’ll have their work cut out if they’re to maintain their 100% record on Tuesday, however. Chelsea remain an imperious force and Massimiliano Allegri has several injuries to contend with. It was revealed on Monday morning that Danilo will miss the rest of 2021 with a thigh injury, although Paulo Dybala trained with the Juventus squad ahead of Tuesday’s bout and he has travelled with the Bianconeri to London.
Thus, La Joya is back in contention and that’s a huge plus for Allegri’s side, who won impressively without their talisman away at Lazio on the weekend.
Here’s our predicted Juventus XI for the midweek trip to Chelsea.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – Szczesny wasn’t tested at Lazio on Saturday but he’ll have to be at his best if the visitors are to walk away with something on Tuesday. Chelsea didn’t create much in the reverse fixture, but you can expect that to change this time around. The Polish international will be a busy man, that’s for sure.
Juan Cuadrado (RB) – Danilo’s injury will surely force Juan Cuadrado into the defensive line, especially with Mattia De Sciglio also absent. Nevertheless, the Colombian is a fine reserve option, even if he isn’t as diligent as the injured Brazilian. Cuadrado starred from right-back last season, although he was given the freedom to roam into the opposition third. It’s hard to envisage Allegri giving him that luxury.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB) – It was Bonucci’s ability from the penalty spot that helped Juve over the line in Rome as he netted twice from 12 yards in the 2-0 win. Expect that responsibility to be shifted back on Paulo Dybala’s shoulders once more. Nevertheless, Bonucci starred in the reverse fixture and Allegri needs a vintage effort from his veteran defender on Tuesday.
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – De Ligt partnered Allegri in his pre-match presser and is a sure bet to start alongside Bonucci on Tuesday. The Dutchman discussed the threat of Romelu Lukaku and that will certainly be a duel to keep an eye out for should the Belgian make his return to the Chelsea XI. De Ligt shines in such duels.
Alex Sandro (LB) – Both De Sciglio and Luca Pellegrini are breathing down Alex Sandro’s neck. Pellegrini’s impressive display at the weekend will have many wanting him to retain his place, but I expect the manager to reintroduce Alex Sandro to the fold. The Brazilian was named on the bench against Lazio due to fatigue.
Federico Chiesa (RM) – Chiesa shined on Saturday and it was the Italian hero who helped Juventus over the line in the reverse fixture. He terrorised the Chelsea backline on that occasion and the Bianconeri require similar brilliance from him on the counter if they’re to prevail at Stamford Bridge. Chiesa certainly doesn’t shy away when the lights are shining at their brightest.
Manuel Locatelli (CM) – Locatelli looked much more like himself on Saturday, although it’ll be a very different game for the Italian in midweek. Chelsea’s ability to sustain pressure means Juve are set to enjoy long periods without possession, meaning Locatelli’s defensive resolve will be put to the test. However, his grittiness without the ball has come as a pleasant surprise for Juventini thus far.
Rodrigo Bentancur (CM) – Weston McKennie certainly hasn’t played himself out of the starting XI, but Bentancur has often been utilised by Allegri on the big night. The Uruguayan is certainly limited in possession and won’t provide the guile of McKennie, but his energy and willingness to defend are both infectious and such desire will be pivotal in slowing Chelsea down.
Adrien Rabiot (LM) – Should Allegri play a 4-4-2, I can’t see how Rabiot avoids playing off the left in the hybrid role. The Frenchman impressed as part of the midfield three on Saturday but, unfortunately, I think he’ll return to the hybrid on Tuesday. He’ll be tasked with tracking the surges of Reece James, I suspect.
Paulo Dybala (SS) – Dybala was ruled out of Saturday’s bout with Lazio as a mere precaution after tests revealed no muscular damage to his calf. The Argentine is fit and ready to go for Tuesday and I think Allegri has little choice but to start him in this one considering his alternative options.
Alvaro Morata (ST) – Allegri’s switch to a 4-5-1 on Saturday meant Morata was often isolated against the Lazio defence. Still, the manager appreciated his efforts and I don’t see him dropping to the bench on Tuesday. It’s worth noting that Mosie Kean was bright as a substitute at the weekend and Allegri will be quick to turn to the young Italian should Morata struggle on his return to the Bridge.