Champions League: Chelsea v Juventus
Chelsea face a stern test tonight as they attempt to become the first team to successfully defend the Champions League and at odds of 15/1 to win the competition they look outstanding value.
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Group E is harder than it first appears: Juventus went unbeaten in Serie A last year, Shakhtar have vast European experience and Nordsjælland despite only being formed 21 years ago play some fantastic football. Juventus are the most likely team to challenge Roberto Di Matteo’s side for the group win and after strengthening their, already impressive, midfield they look a tough team to break down.
Andrea Pirlo will continue to pull the strings behind the energetic Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal, with added competition for places coming from Kwadwo Asamoah and Mauricio Isla. The signings of Lucio and Martin Caceres reinforce their already solid defence and whilst Nicklas Bendtner wasn’t the Arsenal striker Juventus fans wanted, he does provide cover now that club legend Del Piero has moved down under.
The Old Lady have started the season well, and currently top the table on goal difference, with three wins from three. Having bought out Sebastian Giovinco’s 50% stake from Parma, the ‘Atomic Ant’ (yes, really) has scored two already as has enigmatic striker Mirko Vucinic. Andrea Pirlo is back with a new beard for 2012/13 but he hasn’t lost any of his ability and has already grabbed a Serie A goal; he is a whopping 8/1 to score anytime tonight with Sportingbet. Get on this before they drop his odds.
Chelsea have emerged this season looking a completely different beast to last year and hopefully their attacking approach in the Premier League will not revert back to Catenaccio now that Chelsea are amongst the elite of Europe. A midfield trio of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and in time Oscar should prove sumptuous and with Fernando Torres out of Didier Drogba’s shadow Chelsea should entertain this season.
Chelsea have scored eight this season and ought to have scored at least once against QPR at the weekend. Rather than grinding out results Chelsea have become a far more expansive unit, almost unavoidable given the players in the starting XI, but this has made them more porous at the back. Reading exposed them easily at Stamford Bridge and Juventus will be set up to fully exploit any space left on the counter attack.
I see a lot of goals tonight, over 3.5 is 7/2, but Chelsea won all six of their Champions League fixtures at Stamford Bridge last year and should have enough to win tonight. Back the Chelsea win at 6/4.
Chelsea’s price of 15/1 to win the Champions League seems incredibly high to me. This is a team who showed they could defend their way past the best teams in Europe, are over the Champions League hoodoo and a squad that has been reinforced with £85 million worth of talent over the summer. Chelsea now have the players to play more expansive football and are the standout option in the Champions League outright market.