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Champions League: Crucial clash for Chelsea, Juve

A win for Di Matteo’s side in Italy would ensure their progression to the last 16 ahead of the final round of fixtures.

Roberto di Matteo.
Roberto di Matteo.
Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

CHELSEA STRIKER Chelsea striker Fernando Torres could be dropped to the bench for tonight’s crunch Champions League tie with Juventus.

The Spaniard came off 28 minutes from the end of Chelsea’s disappointing 2-1 loss at West Brom on Saturday after yet another fruitless afternoon in front of goal.

And with manager Roberto Di Matteo contemplating a change in system for the crucial clash at Juventus Stadium, Torres may be the man left out.

“Maybe we need to sacrifice a little bit the attacking options to go a little bit more defensive,” Di Matteo said after the West Brom loss. ”We are playing a little bit different but we may have to go a little bit back to win games.

Group E is one of the most evenly poised of the eight pools, with Shakhtar Donetsk top on seven points from Chelsea and Juventus (both six). A win for Di Matteo’s side in Italy would ensure their progression to the last 16 ahead of the final round of fixtures.

The Blues looked far more dangerous at The Hawthorns when Daniel Sturridge replaced Torres, while the introduction of Oscar and Juan Mata also saw an improvement, yet Juventus away will pose a greater threat than in-form West Brom. Antonio Conte’s side are top of Serie A, having lost just one league game in their past 52.

Juventus dominated Lazio in a 0-0 draw on Saturday, with only goalkeeper Federico Marchetti sparing the visitors from defeat. Likewise for Shakhtar, a win against Nordsjaelland (one point) would guarantee their spot in the next round. The Ukrainian side have impressed as much as any in this year’s competition, surprising many with their command of the group.

Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano is being tracked by a host of Premier League clubs but his primary goal will be firing Shakhtar into the next round when they face the Danish side in Cophenhagen tonight. Mircea Lucescu’s side were desperately unlucky to go down 3-2 to Chelsea on the last matchday after a lion-hearted display at Stamford Bridge.

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