Chelsea travel to Turin to face Juventus on Wednesday evening in a meeting between the two clear favourites to progress from Champions League Group H.
Thomas Tuchel’s Blues prepared for the midweek Italian excursion with their first loss of the campaign against Manchester City on Saturday, but have otherwise enjoyed a start to the season their upcoming opponents can only enviously admire.
Inside the opening two months of the campaign, Chelsea have already racked up five victories and as many clean sheets. Juventus, languishing in the unfamiliar doldrums of Serie A’s mid-table, have kept their opponent goalless in just one of their last 23 matches across all competitions.
Here’s the lineup Tuchel may deploy to widen that chasm in conceding.
Chelsea predicted lineup vs Juventus – Champions League
1. Goalkeeper & defender
Edouard Mendy (GK) – Chelsea’s superb shot stopper won his ‘race against pain and time’ to not only feature against City, but almost singlehandedly keep his side in the contest for as long as they were.
Andreas Christensen (CB) – The Denmark international has endured and enjoyed an extreme relationship with European football of late, going unbeaten in continental competition in 2018/19 and 2020/21, but winless on the same stage in 2019/20.
Thiago Silva (CB) – Once hailed as ‘the best defender in the world’ by Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri after the pair combined to win Milan’s last Scudetto a decade ago, Chelsea’s anchor at the back has scarcely dropped his standards in the years since.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – Despite racking up more minutes than any other player since Tuchel arrived in January, Rudiger’s long-term future at the club – bizarrely – remains uncertain. His short-term future, however, is assuredly in the starting XI.
2. Midfielders & wingbacks
Cesar Azpilicueta (RWB) – Chelsea’s wily captain may not bring quite the same attacking thrust as the injured Reece James, but there are few on the continent more adept at quelling the threat of their opponents.
Jorginho (CM) – Once so nearly the architect of Juve’s demise at the base of Napoli’s midfield, Jorginho’s last trip to the Allianz Stadium ended in a 1-0 win he could well replicate on Wednesday.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – N’Golo Kante’s positive COVID-19 test and Mason Mount’s continued absence means Kovacic is the likely starter here, although Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be knocking on the door after his fantastic cameo against Man City.
Ben Chilwell (LWB) – Chilwell has only seen 97 minutes of action so far this season – limited to the cup competitions – but will likely be rotated in here for Marcos Alonso, especially after the Spaniard’s below-par display against City.
Hakim Ziyech (RF) – After hitting double digits for assists in six consecutive seasons, Ziyech may be given another chance to open his account this term after a paltry return of four last campaign.
Romelu Lukaku (ST) – With just one goal and four defeats from his six prior encounters with Juventus, Lukaku’s underwhelming individual record against the serial Serie A winners will be of little concern to the forward that led Inter to last season’s Scudetto at the Old Lady’s expense.
Kai Havertz (LF) – Against what may very well be a low block stuffed with centuries of experience, Chelsea’s self-described ‘ghost’ could prove invaluable in luring Juve’s centre-backs out of position to create space for his teammates.