It was Juventus’s best performance of the season, enough to not only vault the Italian champions to second place in Group E but leave the defending champions on Champions League’s precipice after defeating Chelsea 3-0 win in Turin.
Controlling the match from the opening whistle, Juventus converted their advantage into a lead in the 38th minute when Fabio Quagliarella deflected a Andrea Pirlo shot past Petr Cech. Second half goals from Arturo Vidal and substitute Sebastian Giovinco gave Juventus a deservedly decisive win, their second in a row after starting the tournament with three straight draws.
Chelsea, three points behind already-qualified Shakhtar Donetsk and two behind Juventus, need a Juve loss on matchday six to have a chance at advancing to the knockout round.
Man of the Match: Arturo Vidal probably deserved more credit than he’d received coming into the match (as James Horncastle noted). Tuesday’s performance might put the Chilean international on more English-language radars, even if his most valuable contributions were subtle. Scoring Juventus’s second goal, Vidal will get plenty of credit for his attacking contribution, but at the right apex of Juventus’s midfield triangle, the 25-year-old provided needed support to disrupt play Chelsea’s attacking midfielders use to break down opposing defenses. On the ball, Vidal completed a team-leading 64 passes at 94 percent of his passes (also a team high).
Threesome of knowledge: What we learned
Juventus has woken up.
It took four rounds of group play before Juventus recorded their first victory of Champions League. Even then, it was at home to lightly-regarded Nordsjaelland, a result that did little to dispel the notion that something was wrong. For all the success the Old Lady’s had domestically, they’d been unable to replicate that form in Europe.
That changed today. Not only did Juventus beat reigning the European champions, they controlled the match. True, they needed fortunate bounces to beat Petr Cech on two of their goals, but Juventus was playing well enough to generate other goals had they not been bless was a little luck (and on Fabio Quagliarella’s goal, the luck was their own doing). It was, by far, Juventus’s best performance of the tournament.
Perhaps they needed the wakeup call of being drawn in Denmark. Or maybe this improvement would have come on its own. Regardless, Juventus lived up to their billing on Tuesday.
With Torres, without – it’s all the same.
Roberto Di Matteo made the change many predicted, benching striker Fernando Torres. What made the choice more compelling was the absence of Daniel Sturridge, Chelsea’s other (and as it turned out, injured) striking option. That pushed Eden Hazard in from the left, the Belgian resuming a role he often played last year with Lille.
Torres’ absence wasn’t noticed. With defender Cesar Azpilicueta starting as a right winger, Chelsea’s attacking threat remained the same – Hazard, Oscar, Juan Mata, and little else.
At West Brom? That’s good for a goal. In Turin, you’re probably going get shut out.
It’s an area Chelsea needs to improve, but three months into the season (and 23 months into his Chelsea career), we know Torres is unlikely to supply that improvement.
Chelsea’s swoon continues.
We’ve talked about it before. Chelsea’s hit a rough patch, just as they’ve done each of the last two autumns. There’s little to add to the story other than note (a) the slide continues, (b) Roberto Di Matteo needs to find a solution, because (c) it would be a mistake to assume the club’s early-season form is more informative than last year’s results (results that left them outside of England’s top four).
Oh, and (d) Roman Abramovich.
Packaged for takeaway
- Juventus outshot Chelsea 13-2 in terms of tries on frame. Overall shots: 25-11.
- Ramires is a fine player. So is John Obi Mikel. Together at the base of midfield, it’s an adequate but (for Chelsea’s standards) not good enough solution, hence Chelsea’s recent defensive record: 21 goals allowed in 10 games. Injuries are forcing Di Matteo to use the duo, though it would have been nice to have somebody like Raul Miereles around.
- Juventus got a strong day from their three central defenders — Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, and Giorgio Chiellini — though Chelsea helped. Juan Mata, starting on the left, spent much of his night playing closer to the middle, while Azpilicueta never provided a credible threat.