Champions League Preview: Juventus vs. Celtic, Second Leg — Finish Them

Jeff J Mitchell

THE CHAMPIONS!!!!

I've found over my time here, that sometimes other people say things better than you can. It's not because I don't know how to make my point, it's just that hearing the same voice over and over again can maybe get a little drab.

So, I will let Mortal Kombat speak for what Juventus need to do to Celtic tomorrow night in Turin.

Is a video game I grew up playing not enough for you? Okay, then we will let an actual Juventus player — not just one that appears on yours or mine PlayStation3 every opportunity — speak his mind.

I take you back to a post-Celtic interview with Martin Caceres from a little less than three weeks ago. The 25-year-old Uruguayan defender is quickly becoming a very honest speaker when talks to the media. And as a media folk myself, I can certainly appreciate a player not beating around the bush and being completely straightforward. So we have this:

"We won 3-0 and it's an excellent result. But we need to also maintain the right level of concentration in the return leg. We've embarked on a long journey and we're tackling every game with great concentration. Our first objective is clearly to regain our Scudetto crown, but we'll think about the Champions League, even though we know it will be very difficult to go all the way."

That's what we call perspective from a guy who seems to have a lot of it.

And while they're up three goals to none in and have one foot already in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, Juventus seem to have a lot of that going around right now. And that's good considering how sometimes the mid starts

But since there's none of that — at least for now — we'll just assume it's business as usual and that the squad are going about things like it's all to play for on Wednesday.

That's the hope. The final product is obviously still to be determined tomorrow night at Juventus Stadium.

GOOD NEWS

Let's see here...up 3-0 on aggregate heading into the return leg at Juventus Stadium. That sounds like one nice little situation that you want to find yourself in.

BAD NEWS

Giorgio Chiellini missed training on Monday, therefore creating a bunch of talk about whether he will or will not play against Celtic on Wednesday night. I know it's repetitive and all that jazz, but just don't risk him. He's too important to the cause to put in any kind of danger in a game that Juventus don't necessarily need to win to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

And then you read further down the link above, and you see that Martin Caceres still hasn't recovered from his back ailment that flared up last week. Federico Peluso, you're needed on line one. Federico Peluso, you're needed on line one.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

1. Striker selection. For a couple weeks it was easy to say who Antonio Conte would pick — Alessandro Matri and Mirko Vucinic. Now, Sebastian Giovinco has taken Matri's place in the starting lineuo for some odd reason. It's even stranger when you consider the fact that Matri was, ya know, playing his best football in months. And almost as fast as Matri's starting spot disappeared, Vucinic's form has taken a nosedive since the last time Juve and Celtic played. If it were up to me, it's Matri and Giovinco to start. But what do I know...

2. Or maybe just squad selection as a whole. Football Italia floated out a report — citing no media outlet in particular, I might add —that Conte is thinking of rotating the squad based on the simple fact that Juve has a 3-0 lead heading into tomorrow's second leg. It could be true. It could be total crap. But if Conte has any visions of trying to rest some players before this weekend's match against Catania, there's no other time to do it than Wednesday night.

3. Juve's approach. I know it's the Champions League and that should be motivation enough, but when you're up 3-0 after the first leg, it's not the same situation as other match-ups in the round of 16 find themselves in. You'd think that Juve would want to come out fast, at home no less, and get an early goal to put the tie away once and for all, but you never completely know. Seeing as Juve are at home, it's enough right there to come out fired up and put this thing to bed for good.

4. Celtic's approach. It's simple: What do they have to lose? They're down 3-0 and on the road. Their backs are up against the wall to begin with and they need to score at least three goals against one of the best defenses around at Juventus Stadium to have a shot at even getting close to advancing. They could say "Aw, screw it." and play as loose as they've been all year. Or they could get completely bamboozled by the atmosphere and just struggle from the onset.

5. The tifosi's pre-game coreografia. Why? It's easy. The last time a Champions League match was at the Juventus Stadium, it was freaking awesome.

My starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon: Barzagli, Bonucci, Peluso; Isla, Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Giovinco, Matri

OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 8:45 P.M. IN ITALY; 2:45 P.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 11:45 A.M. ON THE WEST AND THE BEST COAST

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