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Wednesday 21 November 2012

Di Matteo eyes change of plan for Juventus test

Chelsea may play more defensive team in Turin, while Manchester United set to rotate in Turkey

  • Oscar scored as Chelsea were held 2-2 by Juventus in the reverse fixture

Barclays Premier League teams will regard Matchday 5 of the UEFA Champions League in differing lights.

Chelsea are likely to field a full-strength team but possibly in a different formation when they face Juventus in Turin, knowing that victory will assure qualification to the next stage.

Roberto Di Matteo hinted after the 2-1 defeat by West Bromwich Albion in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday that he may change the formation to bring more defensive solidity to a team who are looking to avoid becoming the first reigning champions to fail to qualify for the knockout stage. Juventus is the first of two big matches for Chelsea, with a visit from reigning Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City to Stamford Bridge on Sunday next.

"We need a couple of positive results to get our confidence high again"
Roberto Di Matteo

"Maybe it is the time when we might have to change in terms of our selection and the way we play, looking at the set-up of the team and sacrifice a bit the attacking options to go a bit more defensive," Di Matteo said. "We had a lot of joy with the way we have been playing and long-term that is the way we want to go but we need a couple of positive results to get our confidence high again.

"We have two massive games but we have players with a lot of experience and we have been in this position before."

The club's record in Italy is not strong with only one victory in eight attempts – a 4-0 group victory over Lazio in 2003, when Frank Lampard scored the final goal. The other seven matches resulted in four losses and three draws. Chelsea were held 2-2 by Juventus in the reverse tie at Stamford Bridge having gone 2-0 up.

"They are two massive games coming up," said Di Matteo. "We've got players with a lot of experience. We've been in this position before but, for some reason, November for our club is a bad month and it seems to again be the case this year. We have to try and address that."

Group E fixtures

Juventus v Chelsea
Nordsjælland v Shakhtar Donetsk

Manchester United's Darren Fletcher may feature in Istanbul

What would seem a daunting trip to Galatasaray for Manchester United has been alleviated by the fact that they have qualified for the last-16 stage as group winners in Group H by dint of four successive victories.

This allows Sir Alex Ferguson to rotate his squad and let players who featured in the shock Barclays Premier League defeat by Norwich City to rest for Saturday's match with Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford.

The United manager has been lifted by the return to training of two players who missed the Carrow Road defeat. Wayne Rooney, who had tonsillitis, and goalkeeper David de Gea, who had his wisdom teeth removed, both trained with United in preparation for the trip to Istanbul, although they may not fly out.

"We have done the first part. The second one is when we get the really big European nights"
Michael Carrick

Michael Carrick, who scored the only goal against Galatasaray in the opening group fixture, is already looking to the knockout stages of the competition where United have reached three finals, a semi-final and a quarter-final on the past five occasions they have progressed beyond the group phase.

"That is the big test," said Carrick. "That is when the competition really comes alive. We have done the first part. The second one is when we get the really big European nights and we go away to the best places in Europe and win games.

"We have managed to do that very well over the past few years. Hopefully we can get back to that."

Group H fixtures

Galatasaray v Manchester United
CFR Cluj v Braga

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Key Points

  • Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo may change formation as his team travel to face Juventus
  • Victory for Chelsea will seal qualification to the knockout stages
  • Manchester United likely to rotate team as they go to Galatasaray as group winners