On Wednesday evening, Chelsea will travel to Turin to face Juventus in a clash between the two clear favourites to advance from Champions League Group H.
With their first defeat of the season against Manchester City on Saturday, Thomas Tuchel’s Blues have had a start to the season that their forthcoming opponents can only envy.
Chelsea have already won five games and kept five clean sheets in the first two months of the season.
Here is my predicted line-up for the game.
GOALKEEPER & DEFENDERS:
Mendy (GK): Chelsea’s outstanding shot stopper won his ‘battle against pain and time’ to not only play against City, but also to nearly single-handedly keep his team in the game for as long as they were.
Christensen (CB): In recent years, the Denmark international has had a tumultuous connection with European football, going undefeated in continental competition in 2018/19 and 2020/21 but winless in the same competition in 2019/20.
Thiago Silva (CB): Chelsea’s rock at the back was once dubbed ‘the best defender in the world’ by Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri after the two teamed to win Milan’s last Scudetto a decade ago.
Antonio Rudiger (CB): Rudiger’s long-term future at the club remains uncertain despite playing more minutes than any other player since Tuchel came in January. In the immediate term, however, he will undoubtedly be a starter.
Azpilicueta (RWB): Chelsea’s intelligent captain may not have the same offensive prowess as the injured Reece James, but few players on the continent are better at neutralizing their opponents’ threats.
Jorginho (CM): Jorginho’s last visit to the Allianz Stadium ended in a 1-0 win, which he could easily repeat on Wednesday.
Kovacic (CM): Because of N’Golo Kante’s positive COVID-19 test and Mason Mount’s ongoing absence, Kovacic is the most likely starter, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be vying for a starting spot after his outstanding cameo against Man City.
Ben Chilwell (LWB): Chilwell has only played 97 minutes this season, all of which have come in cup games, but he will almost certainly be swapped in here for Marcos Alonso, especially following the Spaniard’s poor performance against City.
Kai Havertz (LF): Chelsea’s self-described ‘ghost’ might prove vital in drawing Juve’s centre-backs out of position to create space for his teammates against what could be a low block brimming with centuries of expertise.
Lukaku (CF): Lukaku’s poor individual record against Juventus, which includes just one goal and four defeats in six previous meetings, would be of little concern to the forward who guided Inter to the Scudetto last season.
Hakim Ziyech (RF): After a poor performance in the previous four seasons, Ziyech may be given another chance this season.