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Champions League: Forward thinking an issue for Chelsea and Juventus

The Champions League holders and the Serie A champions have frontline concerns ahead of their make-or-break clash in Turin.

Juventus' Mirko Vucinic (C) runs with the ball chased by Chelsea's midfielder Frank Lampard (L) during their UEFA Champions League Group E football match at Stamford Bridge in London on September 19, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
Juventus' Mirko Vucinic (C) runs with the ball chased by Chelsea's midfielder Frank Lampard (L) during their UEFA Champions League Group E football match at Stamford Bridge in London on September 19, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS

Juventus and Chelsea go into tonight's make-or-break Champions League meeting with major concerns over their front-line strikers.

The Serie A champions will give Mirko Vucinic, a fitness test just before the kick-off in what Juve regard as a must-win match in their bid to stay in the competition into the new year, while Chelsea, second in Group E and only a point above the Italians, are considering dropping Fernando Torres because of his latest goal drought.

Torres has scored once in his last seven club matches and, in Saturday's defeat to West Bromwich Albion, was withdrawn after an hour, with the manager Roberto Di Matteo complimenting the performance of his replacement Daniel Sturridge and acknowledging the possibility of naming Torres on the bench at Turin's Stadio Olimpico.

The European champions, who have just one win in their last six league and European fixtures, would ensure qualification for the next phase if they become only the second visiting side to win at the Olimpico in the last 15 months.

If they lose their fate going into next month's final group games could be out of their hands.

Juventus, top of the Italian table, missed Vucinic in their 0-0 home draw with Lazio at the weekend and although the Montenegrin has scored only two goals so far in Serie A this term, his effectiveness at leading the line, and the difficulties he caused Chelsea when the teams drew 2-2 in the group's opening game, mean the head coach Antonio Conte, who will serve a touchline ban, wants to give Vucinic the maximum opportunity to shake off a heavy flu.

"We will assess his condition in our final practice," said Angelo Alessio, Conte's assistant.

Alessio also urged Juventus fans to create a hostile environment to greet a Chelsea who have only ever won once out of eight visits to Italy in the Champions League.

"Antonio [Conte] asked me to tell fans they should make the atmosphere red hot," he said.

Some Juve fans jeered the striker Sebastian Giovinco towards the end of their draw with Lazio, frustrated by his indifferent finishing, and booed the decision to substitute Fabio Quagliarella, who would likely return to his usual role as an impact substitute if Vucinic is able to start.

Like Chelsea, Juventus have been criticised for failing to recruit adequately a top-level striker as cover for their centre-forward

 

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