LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Arturo Vidal of Juventus in action during a Juventus Training Session & Press Conference ahead of the Uefa Champions League Group E match between Chelsea and Juventus at Stamford Bridge on September 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Our Juventus blog Black & White & Red All Over provides a preview of The Old Lady's long awaited return to the Champions League.
Juventus travel today to Stamford Bridge in their triumphant return to the UEFA Champions League. It's been two full seasons since The Old Lady participated in Europe's biggest club tournament and you're right if you assume Juve supporters are itching to get back in to the mix.
Need another layer for the drama? The last time Juventus advanced to the knockout stages of the Champions League (in the 2008-09 season) they were eliminated by Chelsea in the Round of 16. The players may be different in most cases, the coaches are certainly different, but if you think anyone on the Juve side has forgotten that fact, you'd be mistaken.
So what does Juventus need to do to get their campaign off to a good start? Our Jueventus blog Black & White & Red All Over have a preview of the match and provides some insight about what you should watch for and the expected lineups.
Any kind of fatigue factor. Andrea Pirlo played 90 minutes over the weekend. So did Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Sebastian Giovinco, and Claudio Marchisio. And a good number of those people mentioned played pretty much every minute of Italy's World Cup qualifiers. While I don't expect Juventus to be completely gassed because Conte has drilled them in the conditioning department, it's just something to keep an eye on. A lot of Juve's key players have played a lot of minutes in a small period of time.
Chelsea are going to provide a good test for Juventus, especially with the match in London. Given the passion and fervor of Juventus supporters, I expect the initial joy of being back in the Champions League will wear off quickly once the referee's whistle blows. They'll want to not only win tonight, but they'll want to prove they belong back among Europe's elite.