Chelsea began the defence of their Champions League against the Italian Champions Juventus. Many of the players in the Turin side were part of the Italy side that overcame England, including the delightful playmaker Andrea Pirlo.
John Terry was passed fit, while Oscar was given his first Chelsea start in place of Ryan Bertrand. Juventus made four changes from the weekend win at Genoa. After scoring in the 3-1 win Kwadwo Asamoah and Mirko Vucinic replaced Emanuele Giaccherini and Alessandro Matri, with Arturo Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner came in for Martin Caceres and Paolo De Ceglie.
Chelsea started the brighter, forcing a couple of corners early on but David Luiz was unable to get a clean header from the second set piece. Oscar was tasked with tracking Pirlo, while Juventus pushed their wingbacks into midfield and controlled possession. Fernando Torres was looking increasingly isolated and Chelsea were lucky Marchisio could not do better when played in behind the Blues defence.
Chelsea did look threatening when they did get forward, overloading the Juve flanks, however Juventus were able to exploit Chelsea’s high line and Vucinic should have done better when he could only smash the ball into the side netting.
Juve were to pay for that miss on 31 minutes when Oscar’s deflected shot from twenty five yards out beat Buffon. However, if his first effort was a touch lucky, his second two minutes later.was pure class. Receiving the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the area, an exquisite first touch opened up a yard of space. The Brazilian still had it all to do, though, and managed to wrap his foot around the ball and bend a magnificent shot into the top corner.
Chelsea would have hoped to see the game out until half time but Juventus were still threatening and hit back with a fine left footed strike from Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal seven minutes before half time.
The second half started slowly, an Ivanovic effort testing Buffon, but a Chelsea break played in Eden Hazard, who looked to be ahead of Andrea Barzagli when he fell to ground in the penalty box. However, as against QPR at the weekend, the referee ruled against the Belgium international.
Chelsea’s midfield was struggling to contain Juve’s midfield three, with Marchisio running free into the box again, only a smart David Luiz block stopping his shot reaching the target.
Ryan Bertrand came on for Ramires as the game entered the final twenty minutes, kicking off a spate of subs as Oscar was replaced by Juan Mata, and Juventus swapped Giovinci for Quagliarella, then Isla for Lichtsteiner. Both teams were turning over possession with ten minutes to go but Chelsea looked the more threatening on the counter.
A sloppy John Obi Mikel pass put Chelsea in danger and as John Terry tried to play offside and the rest of the side stood and watched, sub Fabio Quagliarella ran through and slotted the ball through Cech’s legs to bring the scores level. Juventus on the whole were well worth the draw, controlling possession with ease at times.
Things nearly turned even worse for Chelsea when Quagliarella clipped the bar with a shot that followed some slick Juventus passing.
Both sides will be happy with the draw. At times Chelsea resembled the side that went all the way in the Champions League without the defensive solidity. The midfield duo of Lampard and Mikel were too often bypassed and guilty of not tracking runners. Oscar was impressive on his full debut, especially considering his main task was to shadow Andrea Pirlo. Hazard, and Mata when he came on, looked a threat.
Juventus for their part look they could go far in this year’s tournament. Their passing was slick and inventive, the wingbacks covered a lot of ground, and they pressed Chelsea into giving up possession quickly. They are susceptible to a quick break but they can leave Stamford Bridge thoroughly content with their performance and the result.
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This article was first posted on September 19, 2012