First knock-out round, second leg
Venue: Stadio Olimpico di Torino
Date: Tuesday, 10 March
Kick-off: 1945 GMT
Tonight sees Claudio Ranieri up against his former club for the second time this season as we travel to Turin for the second leg of our Champions League game in the first knock-out round. Tonight’s game also marks Guus Hiddink’s 40th Champions League game and he’ll be looking for his sixth successive win since taking over from Luiz Felipe Scolari at Chelsea.
We go into the tie with a marginal 1-0 advantage however the Chelsea manager insists we won’t be resting on our laurels. Hiddink suggests “It’s always nice to have a clean sheet. That’s very important. But if you just wait in the second leg and hope not to concede, willing not to concede a goal and not have any initiative in the game, you will have a lot of problems. So, whenever we can, the team must attack. It’s in their character. We’ve not come here just to defend. That would be asking for trouble. At this level, it’s tight. Our game at Stamford Bridge was tight. Tomorrow it will be too. When you are in this period in Europe, I don’t want to talk about luck but you have to force luck a little bit.”
On squad news, Juventus will be without midfielder Mohamed Sissoko (foot) but should otherwise have a full squad to choose from.
For Chelsea, Joe Cole (knee) and Paulo Ferreira (ligaments) will not play again this season, whilst Ricardo Carvalho (hamstring), Deco (hamstring) and Nicolas Anelka (toe) could all miss out. However, Michael Essien could return to the starting line-up for the first time in six months having come through the last half hour against Coventry on Saturday.
Alessandro Del Piero – didn’t really stand out for me in the first leg so he’ll probably want to make up for that this time around and with us still looking vulnerable from set-pieces against them at Stamford Bridge, Del Piero would be exactly the sort of player to punish that.
Didier Drogba – Seems to be returning to form at exactly the right time for us and scored the only goal to divide us so far.
The Old Lady won the Champions Cup in 1985 and then coincidentally, in 1996 lifted the Champions League trophy in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. This is their ninth time in the knockout phase and they’ve successfully got through the first knockout round eight times so far. Juventus have managed to overturn a first leg defeat in the knockout phase on four occasions and haven’t lost in 15 home matches in Europe, which doesn’t bode well for us.
We go into this game aiming for our sixth quarter-final. Previously in Europe, we’ve won the Cup Winners’ Cup twice and reached the Champions League final last season. Unfortunately though, we’ve equalled our club record by not winning in six consecutive games away in the Champions League, with our last away win coming in November 2007.
HEAD TO HEAD
Juve and Chelsea have only faced each other once before, in the reverse fixture last month where we managed a marginal 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
Juventus haven’t won against an English club in eight games in Europe and they haven’t scored at home against an English side in three games. Chelsea, on the other hand, have managed four draws and one win from eight away against Italian clubs in Europe.
Oh god, I don’t even want to predict the outcome of this one – so I won’t!
Possible starting XI: Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, A Cole, Essien, Ballack, Lampard, Kalou, Malouda, Drogba.