Wed 19 Sep 2012 19:45 (Attendance: 40,918)
As the European champions welcome the Old Lady to our home, club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton examine the start of our 10th consecutive campaign in this competition…
Do not be late taking your seat this evening: the Champions League trophy will be brought out shortly after the players' preliminary warm-up and paraded around the pitch. Such moments, as any supporter of a London club will tell you, are quite rare.
Then comes the first time we will have heard the bowdlerised but still splendid version of Handel's 'Zadok The Priest', the Champions League theme, since the live version was performed at around 7.40 in the Allianz Arena on 19 May.
While we are at it, Pedro Proença may well enjoy the best reception for a referee, anywhere, ever, when he strolls out with his fellow Portuguese officials. He was of course the man who handled the final and recorded every Blues fans' favourite string of binary code: the 1011110101 that meant Chelsea had edged the penalty shootout to win the trophy.
Then the reminiscing has to stop and the serious business of negotiating the first half of the Champions League begins. Last season, the Blues' knockout stage opponents could not have been tougher: Napoli, Benfica, Barcelona.
London's first success in the competition came after just two English sides had emerged unscathed from the group stage, Arsenal being the other. Chelsea's Group E had looked potentially tricky, but second-seeded Valencia let themselves down away from home and were pipped for the second qualifying slot by pot three Leverkusen.
The defending champions must now finish in the top half of another Group E, this time with pot two Ukrainians Shakhtar and third-seeded Juventus. All three sides are top of their domestic league at present. Denmark's Nordsjælland, who complete the group, lie third in the Superliga.
Everyone will want the Chelsea scalp. The players' heads must be in the right place tonight - not for scalping, but retaining the title.
Our defence of the trophy starts with three difficult fixtures. After the Serie A leaders at the Bridge come consecutive away trips to Scandinavia and eastern Europe.
The foundation to progress from the groups is success at home. Add a few away points and the job is done. In the last few seasons, the teams finishing group winners have averaged 12.5 points, the runners-up 10 points.
Juventus arrive as flag-bearers of a diminished Serie A assault on this competition. For the first time since 1998/99, Italy have only two teams in the Champions League group stage. The other one is AC Milan.
The bianconeri are tactically interesting - a back three like Napoli - and hard to beat. Their only defeat under coach Antonio Conte (pictured below), appointed in May 2011, came in the Coppa Italia final in Rome last May - against the Neapolitans.
Conte has off-field matters to contend with, however. FIFA confirmed on Monday that his 10-month ban has been extended worldwide, and as a result he will not be on the bench for tonight's game.
The suspension, initially applied just in Italy, came after serious allegations arose relating to illegal match betting during his time at Siena.
Conte contests the allegations, and a manager who is in his element responding to the flow of the game and making tactical changes will be missed on the sidelines.
His side won 3-1 at Genoa on Sunday (a day after the Blues' 0-0 draw at QPR) to maintain their 100 per cent league record after three matches.
They arrived hoping to emulate Inter and Lazio who have previously won along the Fulham Road. Chelsea, though, have beaten five of the last eight Italian visitors in the Champions League here, with one game drawn.
Stamford Bridge is a formidable stadium for European opponents, and the Blues won every home game in last season's competition.
Other Group E fixture
Wed 7.45pm - Shakhtar Donetsk v Nordsjælland
This season's Champions League features 17 domestic league champions from last season, eight runners-up and five third-placed finishers. Malaga is the only club in the group stage to have finished in fourth place in their domestic league. Chelsea are the only side in Group E who didn't top their league last season.
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
Continuing the build-up to tonight's European opener, Rick Glanvill and Paul Dutton get tactical and statistical…
Antonio Conte's Juventus offer a similar tactical test to last season's visitors Napoli, with Euro 2012's star playmaker Andrea Pirlo among their ranks tonight. Chelsea's impressive new wide men should test the Italians' defensive capabilities.
Conte deploys his troops in a 3-5-2 formation, converting to 3-3-4 when they are attacking, with the wing-backs Paolo De Ceglie and Martín Cáceres pushing on.
When the more counter-attacking Napoli lined up with three at the back in last season's Round of 16, Chelsea perhaps missed a trick by not switching from the usual 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3, pitching three against three in the final third.
Outflanking or stretching a back three like Napoli's or Juve's is a key objective. In Naples Branislav Ivanovic was asked to play almost as a winger, firing in crosses, but ultimately reducing numbers at the other end of the pitch.
It also meant the Blues' defensive right was frequently exposed with rapid counterattacks, and the Neapolitans and their highly-prized frontline ran out 3-1 winners.
The key difference in the home return leg was the sheer force of will of Chelsea - in particular Didier Drogba - plus an Agincourt of crosses, and an intimidating Stamford Bridge crowd baying for goals. Tall at the back, Juve are less likely to be troubled by high balls.
Roberto Di Matteo, newly installed, retained the same formation and put Ramires on the left and Daniel Sturridge on the right upfront and asked more questions of the visitors. It meant the dangerous Lavezzi could not afford to stay forward as he had in Naples.
Juventus play a fast, incisive game. Andrea Pirlo is their lynchpin, and opposition teams have a degree of success taking special measures to stop everything going through the elegant playmaker.
For Chelsea, Juan Mata's can-opening qualities were missed at the weekend when he had only just returned from his well-earned rest period after a busy summer.
The two Spaniards both scored past Gianluigi Buffon in their country's 4-0 UEFA Euro 2012 final victory over Italy. The goalie's Juve teammates Pirlo, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Claudio Marchisio were also involved in the game.
On Saturday the Blues looked livelier for the introduction of winger Victor Moses - making a bright debut - and a hungry-looking Daniel Sturridge in the central role he often talks about. The busyness around the QPR box that followed the switch to a 4-3-3, with Ramires dropping deeper, provided the manager with further considerations for tonight.
Di Matteo may ask his right-back to stay back more than usual, leaving the likes of Sturridge, Hazard, Moses or Mata to exploit the wide spaces. He will want to leave enough at the back to cover Juve's danger men: small, dynamic Sebastian Giovinco and Mirko Vucinic, who plays off him. They are joint league top scorers with two apiece so far.
As with Napoli's coach Walter Mazzarri last season, Antonio Conte, who likes to tinker during games, is suspended from the touchline. Up to half his outfield players will have little or no Champions League football under their belts and surely would have benefited from his presence. Chelsea are vastly more experienced at this level and will hope to make that count.
Juventus are likely to have just two. Experienced goalie Buffon and defender Chiellini both played on Sunday at Genoa.
There are some familiar names from the Premier League in the Juve squad though. Centre-forward Nicklas Bendtner, yet to come off the bench for his new team, was on the losing side in six of the eight games he's faced Chelsea, with Arsenal and Sunderland. Paul Pogba was highly rated at Manchester United and was an unused sub during last season's 3-3 at the Bridge.
WE HAVE HISTORY
The only previous competitive meeting between Chelsea and Juventus came in the 2008/09 Round of 16 when a 13th-minute Didier Drogba goal, from a smart Salomon Kalou through pass, gave the Blues a 1-0 first leg victory (pictured below); Guus Hiddink's side came from behind twice in Turin before a 2-2 draw with goals from Michael Essien and Drogba again to win through 3-2 on aggregate.
Italian visitors have helped produce some of the most memorable European nights at Stamford Bridge.
We think of the decisive leg of the Cup-Winners' Cup semi-final in 1998 against Vicenza, in which the Blues capped an exhilarating fightback with a late, rampaging volley from Mark Hughes.
Seventeen months later AC Milan became Chelsea's first ever visitors in the Champions League proper. The Italians were outplayed in a fascinating match, but Gianluca Vialli's men came no closer to scoring than Gianfranco Zola hitting a post and it finished 0-0.
Last season the extraordinary 4-1 victory over Napoli (following a 1-3 away loss) signified a turning point in Chelsea's season, Branislav Ivanovic's stunning extra-time shot ensuring an aggregate victory for newly-appointed boss Roberto Di Matteo.
Chelsea's biggest home win in the Champions League
19/10/2011 - Chelsea 5-0 KRC Genk - Group stage
Juve's biggest away win in the Champions League
01/11/1995 - Rangers 0-4 Juventus - Group stage
Chelsea failed to win at home in the Champions League: 532
Juventus lost an away game in all competitions: 493
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,678
Liverpool won the league: 8,173
Visit again at lunchtime for part two of the Pre-Match Briefing.
Chelsea are looking for a seventh successive home win the Champions League having won all six at Stamford Bridge last term scoring 17 and conceding two.
The Blues have topped our group in seven of our last nine Champions League campaigns. We have never failed to progress to the knockout stage.
The Blues have won eight of our 10 Matchday One fixtures, drawing the other two to AC Milan (1999) and Rosenborg (2007).
We have lost only two of our last 33 home Champions League matches (including 24 victories) since 2006.
|Chelsea's home record against Italian teams|
|1965/66||Roma||W 4-1||Inter-Cities Fairs Cup first round|
|1965/66||AC Milan||W 2-1||Inter-Cities Fairs Cup third round|
|1997/98||Vicenza||W 3-1||European Cup Winners' Cup semi-final|
|1999/00||AC Milan||D 0-0||Champions League first group stage|
|1999/00||Lazio||L 1-2||Champions League second group stage|
|2003/04||Lazio||W 2-1||Champions League group stage|
|2008/09||Roma||W 1-0||Champions League group stage|
|2008/09||Juventus||W 1-0||Champions League round of 16|
|2009/10||Inter||L 0-1||Champions League round of 16|
|2011/12||Napoli||W 4-1 aet||Champions League round of 16|
Chelsea's last ten years in Europe
2002/03 - UEFA Cup - first round
2003/04 - Champions League - semi-final
2004/05 - Champions League - semi-final
2005/06 - Champions League - round of 16
2006/07 - Champions League - semi-final
2007/08 - Champions League - runners-up
2008/09 - Champions League - semi-final
2009/10 - Champions League - round of 16
2010/11 - Champions League - quarter-final
2011/12 - Champions League - winners
|This season to date|
|Aug 12||Manchester City (Community Shield)||L 2-3|
|Aug 19||Wigan (a)||W 2-0|
|Aug 22||Reading (h)||W 4-2|
|Aug 25||Newcastle (h)||W 2-0|
|Aug 31||Atlético Madrid (Uefa Super Cup)||L 1-4|
|Sep 15||QPR (a)||D 0-0|
Scorers Torres 3, Cahill 2, Ivanovic 2, Lampard 2 (2 pens), Bertrand 1, Hazard 1 (pen). Total 11.
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Sat 22 Sep||Stoke City home||3.00pm|
|Tue 25 Sep||Wolves (Capital One Cup) home||7.45pm|
|Sat 29 Sep||Arsenal away||12.45pm|
If selected from the outset, Fernando Torres will make his 50 start in a Blue shirt.
John Terry needs one goal to reach 50 in all competitions for the Blues.
28 league titles, last in 2012
9 Italian Cups, last in 1995
5 Italian Super Cups, last in 2012
2 European Cups, last in 1996
1 European Cup Winners' Cup in 1984
3 UEFA Cups, last in 1993
2 UEFA Super Cups, last in 1996
2 Intercontinental Cup, last in 1996
Juventus have been crowned European Champions on two occasions, in 1984/85 against Liverpool and 1995/96 against Ajax on penalties. They have been runners-up five times; 1973 v Ajax, 1983 v Hamburg, 1997 v Borussia Dortmund, 1998 v Real Madrid and AC Milan with Andriy Shevchenko on penalties in 2003.
|Last ten league seasons|
In winning Serie A last season Juventus remained unbeaten. Their only defeat came in the Coppa Italia final against Napoli.
They have won their last seven away games in Serie A conceding just two goals.
Juve have won twice on English soil against English teams in 20 attempts. The last occasion, against Man Utd, was 16 years and 11 games ago.
Italy's starting XI in their recent World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria contained seven Juve players.
Their overall record against English teams is 15 wins, 12 draws and 15 defeats.
|Juve's last 10 away games against English teams in Europe|
|1997/98||Man Utd||L 2-3||Champions League group stage|
|1998/99||Man Utd||D 1-1||Champions League semi-final|
|2001/02||Arsenal||L 1-3||Champions League second group stage|
|2002/03||Newcastle||L 0-1||Champions League first group stage|
|2002/03||Man Utd||L 1-2||Champions League second group stage|
|2004/05||Liverpool||L 1-2||Champions League quarter-final|
|2005/06||Arsenal||L 0-2||Champions League quarter-final|
|2008/09||Chelsea||L 0-1||Champions League round of 16|
|2009/10||Fulham||L 1-4||Europa League round of 16|
|2010/11||Man City||D 1-1||Europa League group stage|
Ten-year European record
2002/03 - Champions League runners-up
2003/04 - Champions League round of 16
2004/05 - Champions League quarter finals
2005/06 - Champions League quarter finals
2006/07 - Did not qualify
2007/08 - Did not qualify
2008/09 - Champions League round of 16
2009/10 - Europa League round of 16 having transferred from the Champions League group stage
2010/11 - Europa League group stage
2011/12 - Did not qualify
|This season to date|
|Aug 11||Napoli (Italian Super Cup, Beijing)||W 4-2aet|
|Aug 25||Parma (h)||W 2-0|
|Sep 2||Udinese (a)||W 4-1|
|Sep 16||Genoa (a)||W 3-1|
Scorers Vučinić 3 (1 pen), Asamoah 2, Giovinco 2, Vidal 2 (2 pens), Giaccherini 1, Lichtsteiner 1, Pirlo 1, own goal 1. Total 13.
|Serie A top six|
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Pedro Proença is refereeing Chelsea for the second successive Champions League game having been the official in the final in Munich in May. He, his assistant referees and additional assistant referees are all from Portugal.
Juventus manager Antonio Conte is currently banned for 10 months over alleged match-fixing violations.
Our defence of the Champions League trophy began in disappointing style as we threw away a two-goal lead, drawing 2-2 with Juventus on what was only the third occasion in which we'd failed to win our opening group game.
Everything was going according to plan when Oscar drove us in front, via the aid of a deflection, in the 30th minute, and two minutes later we looked to be heading for a comfortable victory when the youngster doubled our advantage with a sublime strike which gave Gianluigi Buffon no chance.
Juventus reduced the deficit five minutes later when Arturo Vidal fired home, and while the Blues had a legitimate penalty claim waved away after the break when Eden Hazard was tripped inside the penalty area, the visitors always looked dangerous.
The equaliser came nine minutes from time when the substitute Fabio Quagliarella raced on to Claudio Marchisio's pass to secure a point.
Attention now turns towards a Premier League clash at home to Stoke City on Saturday where we will be looking to get back to winning ways and maintain our place at the top of the league.
Roberto Di Matteo made only one change to the Chelsea team which drew 0-0 at Loftus Road on Saturday, with Oscar being handed his first start for the club since joining in the summer, Ryan Bertrand the player making way. David Luiz partnered captain John Terry in central defence, while Fernando Torres, withdrawn against Queens Park Rangers, retained his place in the side as the lone striker, making his 50th start for the club. Juan Mata, who missed the weekend's game after being given some time off, returned to the squad, although the Spaniard had to be content with a place on the bench. Daniel Sturridge, meanwhile, missed out after picking up a hamstring strain.
It was a bright start from the Blues, with two corners forced inside the opening couple of minutes, and while the first was easily cleared, David Luiz went close from the second, although the defender couldn't get enough power behind his header to seriously trouble Buffon.
Juventus, though, unlike many Italian sides playing away from home, were happy to push men forward early on, and it required a smart David Luiz block to prevent Mirko Vucinic from slipping his strike partner Sebastian Giovinco through on goal.
The play flowed back and forth as both sides attempted to gain an early advantage, but it was the visitors who had the first real sight of goal, Marchisio racing on to a Leonardo Bonucci clearance in the 21st minute, only to be denied by the lightning quick reflexes of Petr Cech, who raced off his line to parry the midfielder's effort.
The Chelsea defence was breached again moments later as Stephan Lichtsteiner played in Vucinic, but with the goal at his mercy the Montenegro international somehow scuffed his effort into the side-netting.
It was an opportunity the Italians were made to pay for on the half-hour mark as Chelsea took the lead. Oscar pounced on a loose ball 25 yards from goal, and as the youngster struck from distance, his effort took a wicked deflection off Bonucci and flew past the stranded Buffon.
Two minutes later, with the supporters still on their feet celebrating his first strike, Oscar doubled his tally for the night with one of the goals of the season so far, spinning on the edge of the box and bending an absolute peach of a strike into the top corner.
Di Matteo had opted to ease the 21-year-old into the side gradually over the course of the opening few weeks of the campaign, but in the space of a couple of minutes he had given the Stamford Bridge faithful a glimpse of his unquestionable abilities.
Five minutes later, however, the away side were back in the game courtesy of a powerful, low strike into the bottom corner by Vidal, a goal which, in truth, they will have felt their first half performance merited.
Buoyed by their sudden reprieve, Juventus sensed unease in the Blues defence as the half drew to a close, and they were almost level with the last kick of the half, Andrea Pirlo's free-kick sailing inches past Cech's right-hand post.
Chelsea, unchanged from the first half, came out after the break eager to restore our two-goal advantage, and shortly after Ramires narrowly failed to connect with a Hazard cross, Buffon saved low down to his right from an impressive Branislav Ivanovic effort.
The veteran Italian goalkeeper was called into action again moments later when he did well to save a thumping Frank Lampard free-kick as we stepped up the pressure.
The referee, who had incensed the home supporters with a string of decisions in the opening 45 minutes, did little to enhance his standing with them when he denied the Blues what appeared to be a certain penalty as Hazard was brought down inside the box by Chiellini.
Juventus were growing into the game as the half wore on, and after Lampard lost possession just outside our own penalty area, David Luiz made a stunning last-gasp block to deny Marchisio as he looked to pull the trigger.
Sensing the visitors were beginning to take control of proceedings, Di Matteo made his first substitution of the night, replacing Ramires with Ryan Bertrand, a switch which saw Hazard move out to the right-hand side and Bertrand play ahead of Ashley Cole on the left.
Soon after it was Oscar making way, the Brazilian suffering after being caught by a late tackle minutes earlier, with Mata coming on to play in behind Torres.
The Spaniard's impact was almost instant, but after linking up well with Hazard his left-footed strike flew wide of Buffon's post, and from the subsequent attack Juventus were level.
Marchisio picked up possession midway inside the Chelsea half and was afforded far too much time to slide his pass into the path of the substitute Fabio Qualiarella, who took one touch before calmly rolling the ball through the legs of the advancing Cech, sending the travelling hordes behind the goal delirious.
As the clock ticked down it was Juventus firmly in the ascendancy, and Quagliarella almost turned the game completely on its head when he turned on the edge of the box and crashed a strike against the bar with what was the last attempt on goal.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry (c), Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires (Bertrand 68), Oscar (Mata 74), Hazard; Torres.
Unused substitutes: Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Romeu, Moses.
Scorers Oscar 31, 33
Booked Ramires 59
Juventus (3-5-2): Buffon (c); Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner (Isla 76), Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Vucinic (Matri 87), Giovinco (Quagliarella 74).
Unused substitutes: Storari, Lucio, Giaccherini, Marrone
Scorers Vidal 37, Quagliarella 80
Booked Vidal 65
Referee Pedro Proenca (Portugal)