Chelsea 'easiest game' Juve set to face, says Chiellini

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Giorgio Chiellini has won nine league titles with Juventus but is yet to win the Champions League (AFP/MARCO BERTORELLO)
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Giorgio Chiellini said Tuesday that facing Chelsea will be the simplest match faltering Juventus will play in the coming weeks as they face the European champions to Turin.

Juve host the Blues in the Group H clash at the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday after a difficult start to the Serie A season which has left them down in 10th after six matches, but the veteran Italy centre-back believes the big occasion will bring out the best in his team.

"Tomorrow is the easiest game we will play in recent weeks. These are great games because they're easy to prepare for, the tension is at its highest and everything is at the highest level," Juve captain Chiellini told reporters.

"We're playing our first home match in the Champions League against the European champions, who strengthened since winning it, so it will be a great match, as difficult as it will be stimulating.

"I'm sure we'll play well and that everyone around the club, us most of all, the coach, the fans want to have a great night."

Massimiliano Allegri's side lead the group after beating Malmo 3-0 last time out, the only match this season in which Juve have kept a clean sheet.

They are however missing key forwards Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata, who both left the field injured in the weekend's 3-2 win over Sampdoria.

"It would be pointless to deny that Paulo is a crucial player for us. But we're a team that can get over his absence," added Chiellini.

"We have a strong squad which will be ready and will overcome him not being there."

- Allegri aiming for glory -

One of the players tipped to fill the gap up front is Federico Chiesa, who starred alongside Chiellini for Italy in their run to Euro 2020 which kicked off a memorable summer of sport for the Mediterranean nation.

However he has had a tricky start to life under Allegri, who returned to the Juve bench in the close season following the removal of Andrea Pirlo.

Allegri singled out Chiesa for criticism after Juve's 1-1 home draw with AC Milan earlier this month, and did not say if the 23-year-old would start or not, confirming only the presence of goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, Manuel Locatelli and Alex Sandro in the starting XI.

"From Chiesa I expect what he's doing now but even better. I think he's done very well, because to come to Juve and play well like he did last year was not easy," said Allegri.

"But playing at the Euro and scoring important goals like he did has put him in the position that he's no longer the young lad for whom whatever he does is OK. There is more expectation on him and the margins of improvement are much smaller.

"That's why this year is much harder for him than previous years."

Despite their rough start to the campaign, Allegri insisted that he was aiming for Champions League glory this season after taking the Old Lady to the final in 2015 and 2017.

"Whoever takes part in the Champions League has to want to win it," said Allegri.

"Tomorrow, we're playing against the European champions, it will be a great night regardless of what happens... the emotions of playing these matches is what moves you to do great things.

"Our desire to get to the final, I don't know if we'll get there but it's a goal there in front of us that we need to get after. That's what makes the difference."

td/pb