Wednesday September 19 2012
Juventus back, but do they belong?

Juventus are preparing for their return to the Champions League for the first time since December 2009. Luca Cetta asks what we can expect from the Bianconeri tonight and this season.

Three years away from the top. Three years without hearing the famous Champions League anthem. Three years since Bayern Munich humiliated Juventus and dumped them out of the competition. In the meantime there have been significant transformations at Vinovo, from Presidential to coaching changes, further on-field disappointment to recent success.

Juve will start with a bang – a trip to Stamford Bridge to face defending champions Chelsea. Long before Sunday’s enthralling victory at Genoa, the continental return was on their mind. Captain Gianluigi Buffon spoke of the squad’s anticipation earlier in the campaign. “We speak about the Champions League in the dressing room because, after three years, we finally have the opportunity to figure on the European scene.”

On Friday he added: “For so many Tuesday and Wednesday nights I was forced to watch this tournament from my couch. I have a nice television, but being on the field is another matter... I missed it and so did my teammates, but these two seasons out were good for us, because now we’ll fight for every last drop of sweat in each game.” Antonio Conte would claim “this is the right place for a club that, for tradition and results, has made and continues to make history in Italian football and beyond.”

“We respect everyone but fear no one. We want to give our all in the Champions League and we can’t wait to get going,” said future captain Claudio Marchisio. After two seasons away, just how far can Juve go? Drawn against Chelsea, Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk and the unknown quantity of Danish champions Nordsjaelland, their first aim, Andrea Barzagli says, is knock-out phase qualification. “We are back and want to show we’re up to the standard of the competition by making it out of our group.”

Should Juve achieve that initial goal anything is possible from that point forward. Just ask Roberto Di Matteo. Former players Alessio Tacchinardi, Sergio Porrini, Gianluca Vialli and Angelo Di Livio have all praised Juventus and believe they can go far. As Buffon noted, playing for Juve means “you have the ambition and aspirations to try to win everything” and while they are in it to win it, showing they can once again compete with the best will also be an objective.

Key figures such as Buffon and Andrea Pirlo are veterans of this competition, however as a unit Juventus lack European experience. Both Coaches – Conte and matchday leader Massimo Carrera – were triumphant as players with the Bianconeri in 1995-96, but this too represents a new challenge. And while Buffon does not believe the midweek additions to the calendar will an issue, ensuring the players are fit and ready for the European showdowns will be critical. It will require rotation as at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris last weekend.

Juve have been handed a baptism of fire. “Playing in England always has a certain appeal and we’ll step into an electric atmosphere at Stamford Bridge,” noted Conte after the group stage draw. In 2008-09 the Bianconeri met Chelsea and were beaten 1-0 in London before a 2-2 home draw ensured elimination in the Round of 16. That Didier Drogba influenced defeat means their terrible record on English soil stands at two wins – against Aston Villa in 1982-83 and Manchester United in 1996-97 – in 11 European Cup/Champions League encounters. Ciro Immobile worried Juve’s sluggish central defence on Sunday with his pace and movement, something they have struggled with before in England and will need to be aware of tonight.

Three points is their aim, but to start a campaign away to the defending champions is never easy. The Old Lady then battles Shakhtar at the Juventus Stadium before dual meetings with Nordsjaelland. Therefore, taking at least a point from their opening clash will create a platform for a club eager to leave its mark on the Champions League this season.

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Have your say...
What a way to mark a return to the competition after a 2 year absence !!!

Getting a point playing the defending champions away from home, couldn't have asked for a better start.

Well done guys, coming from 2 goals behind especially against a side notorious for "parking the bus" is fantastic !!!

on the 20th September, 2012 at 8:43am
I'm an Interista but I seriously want Juve to do well in this year's Champions League... Italy needs to get back on track in Europe.

And I seriously do think that they could have a good campaign... they played well last night.
on the 20th September, 2012 at 8:35am
Bravo, Juve. A good result. Now let's see a victory in the home leg to really put them in their place.

I really want to know what the BBC sports people are about when they list Chelsea as having more than 60% possession. From what I've seen and heard elsewhere, this wasn't actually the case in the match. Hmmm...
on the 20th September, 2012 at 7:04am
We have earned the right to belong in the Elite European competition. Last year we were reborn under Conte and his staff's leadership. We could have turned into the likes of the current Liverpool team had it not been for his appointment.

This Juve team is built on hard work, effort and respect for each opponent. It is good for Juve, good for Serie A and good for Italian football in general that we are back. Forza Juve!!
on the 20th September, 2012 at 12:35am
Compared to the other rubbish Serie A has put up this season in the CL Juve are miles ahead.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 11:16pm
i would like to mention to all juve fans that fabio.q is back after a while.fino alla fine forza juventus
on the 19th September, 2012 at 11:02pm
juventus could of won that game with a top striker
on the 19th September, 2012 at 10:45pm
Well, I think tonight's result conclusively answered that question!
on the 19th September, 2012 at 9:02pm
Che Cuore Juve, Che Cuore Juve. A great comeback. Quagliarella I've always rated great goal and unlucky with great shot that hit the bar. Prandelli are you watching?. Juve have restored some pride back to our football with that draw. It was well deserved. I felt they where unlucky to be 2-0 down, especially the first goal with the big deflection off Bonucci. Good luck to our 4 teams tomorrow night. Hope all will take Europa League seriously for the sake of our league.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 8:58pm
Great performance by the Old Lady, just think what they could have done against Chelsea had they had Jovetic or Van Persie up top... A top striker is a necesity to reach that next level.

on the 19th September, 2012 at 8:44pm
Take that little waste of space of the pitch! I cannot believe we dumped del piero for giovinco!!!!
He hasn't even won his usual free kicks out of sympathy. Come on lads we can turn this game around. Juve 3 Chelsea 2?
on the 19th September, 2012 at 7:39pm

Seem like your having trouble reading Adam. This is NOT about wether Milan belong in CL or not its about Juve. Keep your hating out if it. Let me remind you something, We're STILL the most successful team in Italy even though were going through a horrid time. Show some respect or stay out it.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 4:54pm
Give the Italian league their rightful 4th CL spot back!!! I'm confident that the top four Italian clubs could match the top four in england.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 4:45pm
The title of this story is pretty laughable.... "do they belong ?" They are the undefeated champions of Italy, it's pretty obvious that they belong.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 4:38pm
chelsea are not champions for nothing, should be a good game but Juve have no strikers to hurt chelsea 2-1 to chelsea
on the 19th September, 2012 at 3:51pm
the english media already ate their words when we humiliated them at the euro's this past summer..
on the 19th September, 2012 at 3:20pm
Being born smack dab in the middle of Chelsea territory, and actually following them when they had a few Italians. I believe Chelsea will be in for a big surprise when they face Juve. This Juve side is very dangerous bc, they have something to prove to the soccer
world after the two scandals. The opening 15 minuets in both halves will be the key. FORZA JUVE
on the 19th September, 2012 at 3:06pm
Did we have Torres we would beat them. Buffon, Chiellini, Lucio, Barzagli; Lichtsteiner, Pirlo, Vidal, Marchisio, Asamoah; Torres (Goviovinco, Vucnic
on the 19th September, 2012 at 2:44pm
I want to say thanks to the milan suporters for there suport tonite as for the english media i hope we shut them up forza juve forza milan also
on the 19th September, 2012 at 2:22pm
As a Napoli fan I'm so hoping Juve win tonight hate the Arrogant English Football pundits, I'm a big Napoli fan but when European Nights come around I support ALL Italian Clubs so Tonight FORZA JUVE!!!! And FORZA ITALIA!!!!
on the 19th September, 2012 at 2:19pm
@ Adam, what are you talking about. Your comment makes no sense.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 1:20pm
@ MJ er UTd? what have they done in champs league? i can understand u say Real and Milan and barca recently but Utd? they won in 99 with pure luck! as English teams seem to do and then beat annother English team on Pens! to win the next! and all this took 20 years.

Anyhow sorry for my rant Forza Juve do us proud fellas..Serie A needs it and i seriously hope the Sky sports pundits eat their words! but even if Juve Destroyed chelski they would never admit to them being better..
on the 19th September, 2012 at 1:17pm
I'm extremely emotional with Juve's return to Champions League..Forza Juventus !!!!
on the 19th September, 2012 at 1:16pm
Forza Juve. Cant think about our previous history in CL, its a new squad now and we start over in European football (but we shouldnt get hung up on our European history anyway because its hardly been that great given for all the times we have entered EC and Champions League competitions we have won very little compared with the Milans, Barca's, Madrid's and United's). Big baptism of fire tonight, lets hope we can do it with spirit and hunger, Chelsea favourites but we can beat them! Forza Juve
on the 19th September, 2012 at 12:43pm
I hope Juve smash Chelsea just like Atletico did, FORZA ITALIA!!!
on the 19th September, 2012 at 12:22pm
@ Sadia

Amen to that. I'm actually English, but the media arrogance boils my blood as well.

I will be watching attentively from 19:30 to hear what the so-called pundits have to say about Juve. Like it or not, they probably represent Italy's best in club football right now, so I'll be very interested to hear their comments before and after the game. I just hope Chelsea's plain dumb luck doesn't see them win.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 12:19pm
As I've said to some friends and relatives, this Juve side can do well but the bianconeri lack a world-class centre-forward. If Van Persie, Llorente or Dzeko had arrived, I would have tipped them to win the trophy. Giovinco and Vucinic should do well in Serie A but I can't visualize them as a Champions League attacking duo.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 12:15pm
lets get back to where we belong, in Euro upper stage.
Even if Juve draw tonight will be a good result. The season is still young and players will be in better shape. I'm sure Juve can do well.
Forza Juve Per sempre
on the 19th September, 2012 at 12:11pm
all i hope is that milian and juventus make it to the last 4, italian football needs to get back on track
on the 19th September, 2012 at 12:11pm
They certainly deserve to be back in Europe's premier competition, twice winners from 7 finals, they must play their role.

The last strong team to play in the UCL was the 05-06 season. Since then, the 08-09 & 09-10 seasons had a mediocre team along with injuries.

This time I'm more optimistic, Juve got a much stronger team & grit. I hope they will do us proud tonight...
on the 19th September, 2012 at 12:00pm

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