Juventus currently top Group H with four wins from four including a 1-0 victory over Chelsea in Turin but the hosts can draw level on points with the Old Lady if they win tonight, a victory that would take the finishing positions, including the important seeded-place for the knockout rounds, to the wire when Juventus take on Malmo at home and Chelsea go to St Petersburg on Dec 8.
Danilo will miss the Chelsea trip having been sidelined for two months with a thigh injury but Paulo Dybala, Alex Sandro, Dejan Kulusevski and Weston McKennie have all made the trip to London.
Massimiliano Allegri believes his side will need a sharper killer instinct against Chelsea’s miserly defensive unit. “Tomorrow we’ll play for first place in the group against the team that last year won the Champions League,” said Allegri.
“So it will be a very important test for us. We need to improve our conversion rate. We create important situations but we are still making mistakes in the final third.”
Romelu Lukaku is due to return from a month out with an ankle injury. The club’s record signing has been in full training since Sunday and Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he could be selected in the squad if he is deemed fit after meeting with medical staff.
“Maybe he has the chance to be in the squad for the last minutes,” Tuchel said of Lukaku, “but that will be the absolute maximum we can get out of the situation right now.”
Lukaku was hurt in the win over Malmo in the Champions League on Oct. 20, the same game in which Timo Werner also came off the field because of a hamstring injury. Werner has also returned to training and looks more likely to play against Juventus, given Kai Havertz – who has filled in up front over the last month – was withdrawn during the 3-0 win over Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday because of hamstring problems.
Allegri admitted his side are still struggling for goals since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and discussed the importance of Chelsea’s No9 to his preparations.
“With Lukaku they play in a different way. Without him they have fewer reference points and more counter-attacking players. It’ll be an important test for us.”
By contrast with their imperious form in Europe, Juve have struggled domestically, winning six of their 13 matches, including a 2-0 victory over Lazio in Rome on Saturday, to climb to eighth in Serie A.
“We must improve our finishing. We’re creating good chances and making mistakes with the final ball,” Allegri said. “In Rome we ran risks by not finishing our chances and then allowing counter-attacks. We’ve scored 18 goals and conceded 15 [in Serie A], we need to find more goals as a team.”
“Everywhere Cristiano has gone, he’s always been the top scorer,” he said. “We have a lot of players who can score goals, but at the moment we aren’t finding them.”