Juventus made an impressive return to Champions League football as they stopped holders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Serafino Ingardia praises the resilient Old Lady.
It was never going to be easy for Juventus as they visited European Champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the night of their return to the Champions League. And, as stats show that the Bianconeri had lost their last five trips to England against Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester United and twice to Arsenal, they might have wished for a softer return to European action.
The Old Lady did things the hard way after they went down 2-0 to the Blues following a terrific one-two from Brazilian starlet Oscar. It could have been game over and a terrible blow for Antonio Conte’s boys who were as usual guided on the touchline by Massimo Carrera.
Chelsea, as Roberto Di Matteo had warned them, soon realised they hadn’t seen the end of it as this Juve is not built to surrender. Watching La Signora pushing around the European Champions at Stamford Bridge was a pleasant yet surprising affair. For over a decade they had been mistreated in the UK with their last win in England dating back to 1996 against United at Old Trafford.
This Juve side wasn’t built in a day though as their 42 League game unbeaten run shows. Don’t forget, Conte has lost just once while at Juventus – in the Italian Cup Final against Napoli last season.
In one of the most difficult of nights, the team’s fighting spirit rescued them from a critical situation. Conte wasn’t there to help, but Juve still stood up and fought back with heart and soul.
Juve may not be remembered for their quality, but their remarkable ability to straighten things up is pretty unique. This was the tenth comeback for Juventus under Conte. Seven times the Bianconeri have managed to equalise, while in three other occasions they went on to win.
And once again, Juve managed to get back on track in the second half. Last season, they had +17 points at full-time compared to half-time results. Their current campaign started in similar fashion. Against Napoli in the Super Cup, the Bianconeri went 2-1 down in the first 45 minutes before grabbing a second-half equaliser and finish off the Azzurri in extra-time. It was no coincidence they played the same trick at Stamford Bridge.
The Old Lady returned home with a precious point which gives them hope to progress to the next stage and perhaps even top the group. Nevertheless, this result gives them no reason to get carried away – it must go down as an assumption of potential.
As a matter of fact, despite a night of brilliance in London, the Bianconeri remain significantly behind the top European clubs. But as Chelsea proved last term, this is a competition open to surprises in which such a determined Juventus will certainly have a word to say.