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...
I am a massive roma fan, but nobody in serie a can match Juve at the minute and i dont think it will be much different in Europe. Fir tonight only, Forza Juve!!!
on the 19th September, 2012 at 11:56am
Of course Juve are back where they belong, the squad is better equipped to be competitive in Europe's top competition but as they lack the presence of already established younger world class stars, where they finish will depend on their mentality. It is true that the squad is relatively inexperienced but if they play to their strengths and just go for it they could have the same impact as what Spurs did a few seasons back.

Forza Juve

on the 19th September, 2012 at 11:46am
To the Milan fan, I agree with everything you said about English football but moreover the media is simply an idiot's view of Italian football and it make me mad every time they mention how defensive they are... It's as if they have never seen a Serie A game in their liFe. And another thing, being defensive on tactical is no bad thing, all the prem players can do is run with no idea on what to do next.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 11:32am
At Milan Fan! " I hope you bring your frankly infuriating refusal to lose to the European stage as well".

Lol. Thats the best compliment you cud have made.. It's true I guess...
on the 19th September, 2012 at 11:31am
DO THEY BELONG? YESSSSS!! FORZA JUVE!!! First 11. Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chellini, Lichsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah, Giovinco & Vucinic. 7 Italians in the 11, 10 Italians in the line up vs Genoa on Sunday... Bellisimo!!! No team with the history of Juve... Make us proud!!
on the 19th September, 2012 at 11:30am
Juventus needed to bring in Llorente or Jovetic for me to strenghten the forward line. We are all with you Juventus, do italy proud. It will be tough but Juventus can get something from the game. Milan where pathetic last night, a complete joke. What an embarassment.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 11:24am
Great to see juve back where they belong. Back on top! Would of been nice to have alessandro del piero there for at least one last CL. Nethertheless wish ADP all the best with Sydney. Can't wait to see you in action.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 10:59am
I'll be honest, I've never had much love for Juventus. A Juventino on here said they are perceived as the villains of Serie A, and that's certainly how I grew up perceiving them... But in a game between an Italian club and an English club (especially when the latter are the undeserving fluke champions of last season), I will back the Italians. Good luck tonight, Juventus! I hope you bring your frankly infuriating refusal to lose to the European stage as well.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 10:19am
I'm a bit taken aback by the remark on 'sluggish defence' – not a criticism I would have levelled at Juve after last season. And the stereotypical comment about the pace of English sides is a little irritating. I'm optimistic ahead of tonight's game. I don't think Chelsea are going to have an easy time of it.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 10:17am
This squad certainly belongs in the CL. Maybe not quite in the last 4 just yet, but definitely good enough for the QF. The failure to bring in Jovetic or Llorente will probably cost them eventually.

Tonight should be a great game, but the forwards will need to take what chances come their way. I predict 1 - 1.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 10:14am
I hope Juve do well we play a brand of footy that is suited no doubt. we do lack experience. BUT we do belong up there we are one of the worlds ELITE clubs. I feel for Milan i really do they rep Serie A and i hope they get better as the season gets on we need a competitive league and reps. differences aside Serie A needs it.

Forza Juve. do us proud.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 10:10am
They belong!! Milan dont.....all Milan players are injured shock.... when the going gets tough Milan players go to hide with the doctor. Do a blog on Milan players having no bottle.
on the 19th September, 2012 at 10:02am
.....good luck and show Europe La Vecchia Signora is back to take her throne in Europe once again!
on the 19th September, 2012 at 9:58am

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