Federico Chiesa made the difference as Juventus beat Chelsea 1-o at the Allianz Stadium in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
The game was a largely drab affair, with chances coming few and far between all through the ninety minutes. Chelsea saw more of the ball over the course of the game, but Juventus were happy to sit back and absorb the pressure before embarking on express counter-attacking moves.
This outlook meant the Blues hardly created any worthwhile chances while the hosts carried a far greater threat, only for the final ball to stop them from testing Edouard Mendy. The deadlock was finally broken just 11 seconds into the second half, as Federico Chiesa was teed up by Federico Bernardeschi, with the Italian international making no error in finding the back of the net.
Thereafter, it was more of the same from the first half, with Chelsea barely troubling the hosts in what was another toothless performance by Thomas Tuchel & co. following a similarly poor display against Manchester City. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both the sets of players.
Wojciech Szczesny: 7/10
Much maligned early in the season, Szczesny was a reliable presence inside the Juventus box. Claimed the ball well in the air while making one solid stop. A much-needed confidence booster.
With the security of Juan Cuadrado in front of him, Danilo produced a convincing performance at right-back. Crowded the box in the key moments, making seven clearances and winning as many duels. Lost the ball cheaply at times, though.
Leonardo Bonucci: 9/10
The captain on the day, Bonucci was a colossal presence at the heart of the Juventus defence and did well to keep the backline organised and disciplined. Made a big impact on a personal level as well, completing four interceptions, three clearances and three blocks. Played out from the back efficiently on top of that.
— OptaPaolo ? (@OptaPaolo) September 29, 2021
Matthijs de Ligt: 9/10
There has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding de Ligt, who has even been linked with Chelsea of late. However, the Dutch international went a long way in proving his naysayers wrong on the day, isolating Romelu Lukaku in key stretches of the game while also helping shut off Kai Havertz.
Alex Sandro: 6/10
Alex Sandro was largely solid at the back and won eight duels in the game. However, the Brazilian full-back was guilty of losing the ball too cheaply at times (17 times in all) and was given a few scares by Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Rodrigo Bentancur: 8/10
A solid presence in the middle of the park, Bentancur worked extremely hard to deny the Chelsea midfielders space to exploit. Never stopped putting in the effort and one crunching tackle on Kai Havertz in the first half typified his excellence off the ball.
Manuel Locatelli: 8/10
Sitting at the base of the three-man midfield unit, Locatelli kept Juventus organised off the ball and was personally extremely disciplined. Won seven duels while impressing with four interceptions, four tackles and two clearances. Job well done.
Adrien Rabiot: 6/10
Rabiot was largely a tenacious presence in the middle of the park for Juventus and did not let the Chelsea attackers drift past him apart from the odd occasion. Ought to have set up a goal in the first half on a quick break only for his pass to be horribly miscued.
Juan Cuadrado: 7/10
A typically industrious performance by Cuadrado, who put in the hard yards off the ball and looked to snuff out the space for the Chelsea midfielders to exploit. Nothing to fault him for apart from a few sloppy touches.
Federico Bernardeschi: 8/10
Deployed centrally, Bernadeschi spent more time in his own half than in the final third. The Italian international, though, played the ball smartly whenever the hosts charged forward. And in a moment of intelligence, he set Federico Chiesa up for the winner.
Federico Chiesa: 9/10
Federico Chiesa is the first player to score a #UCL goal vs. Chelsea since Karim Benzema in the first leg of last season’s semi-final.
Juve’s talented forwards steps up in the absence of Dybala & Morata. ⚪️⚫️ pic.twitter.com/6mdPnAvraC
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 29, 2021
So often the man to make the difference for Juventus, Chiesa carried the greatest threat for the hosts. Chelsea’s dominance on the ball meant Chiesa did not see a lot of the action, but he always left the Blues’ defenders back-pedaling when the hosts charged forward. Got all three points for Juventus with a smart finish early in the second half.
Dejan Kulusevski: 6/10
On for Bernardeschi, Kulusevski did not see much of the ball in the final quarter of the game.
Weston McKennie: N/A
On for Rabiot, McKennie did well to see the game out late on.
Moise Kean: N/A
On for Chiesa, Kean barely saw the ball late on.
Giorgio Chiellini: N/A
A late introduction, Chiellini helped see the game out.
Edouard Mendy: 6/10
A quiet evening for Mendy, who did not have a save to make all game and handled the ball on a rare occasion when he fetched it out of his own net after Federico Chiesa had scored for Juventus. Played out precisely from the back.
Andreas Christensen: 6/10
A largely solid display by Christensen, who moved the ball along nicely for the most part apart from a wasteful touch here and there. Faced one or two nervy moments up against Chiesa but mostly held his own at the back.
Thiago Silva: 4/10
One of the players culpable of switching off when Juventus scored the only goal of the game. Thiago Silva was guilty of affording Federico Bernardeschi enough space to set Chiesa up for the winner. Otherwise, there was not a whole lot to fault in his performance, with the veteran winning four duels while completing all but three of his attempted passes.
Antonio Rudiger: 4/10
Usually reliable, Rudiger appeared to be on the edge on Wednesday and left a lot of space wide open whenever Juventus charged forward. Not helped by a lack of defensive acumen by both the left wing-backs, but he could have still done better in the moments when Juventus threatened.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 5/10
Deployed in the right wing-back slot, Azpilicueta failed to provide a creative outlet from his flank. Did not put much of a foot wrong defensively, but needed to do more from his position.
An uncharacteristically sloppy performance by Jorginho, who just could not manage to make much happen despite keeping Chelsea in control of the proceedings. Has to do better.
Mateo Kovacic: 5/10
Chelsea’s Mr. Consistent had an off day. While everything went through him when it came to the moves created by Chelsea – he had a game-high 153 touches and 130 passes completed – the Croat just could not set a quick tempo to the game.
Marcos Alonso: 4/10
Alonso has been one of the star performers for Chelsea early in the season but this was a game to forget for the Spaniard, who never really got going and sent in more hopeful passes rather than ones that carried a threat. Taken off at half-time.
Kai Havertz: 5/10
The Player to Watch in our preview, Havertz was bizarrely off colour and just could not manage to get into dangerous scoring positions, as he can at his best. That being said, he could have done better to convert a chance in the second half.
Hakim Ziyech: 4/10
A surprise starter ahead of Timo Werner. And his performance in the game justified that surprise, as the Moroccan playmaker just could not manage to create any opening in the game. His form has mysteriously disappeared.
Romelu Lukaku: 6/10
A frustrating game for Lukaku, who saw a fair bit of the ball but could seldom get into dangerous scoring positions after being marshalled brilliantly by Bonucci and de Ligt. Did aim four shots at goal, but could only keep one of those on target. Will be itching for a goal now.
Breaking down the battle between…
Bonucci vs Lukaku #UCL
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) September 29, 2021
Ben Chilwell: 6/10
On for Alonso at half-time, Chilwell was definitely an upgrade over the Spaniard and played a game-high three key passes. However, he knew nothing about Chiesa’s goal, as the Italian winger simply drifted past him and away to score the only goal of the game.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 6/10
A bright spark in the final half an hour, Hudson-Odoi looked the likeliest player to make anything happen for Chelsea and has made a case for himself going forward.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 6/10
Another performance that showed that he ought to get a start in a key game soon enough. While Loftus-Cheek did not create any major openings, he was once again decisive in the middle of thee park, playing the ball forward efficiently while also playing a key pass.
Trevoh Chalobah: 6/10
On for Jorginho, Chalobah was largely solid in the final half an hour, although he was sloppy in possession at times, which was a tad bit frustrating.
Ross Barkley: N/A
A bizarre introduction by Thomas Tuchel, who chose not to bring on Timo Werner. While the Englishman did complete all but one of the passes he attempted, he hardly had the cutting edge to create an opening.