The last time we saw Juventus in the Champions League, they were crashing out against Bayern Munich. It was a sad day, one of the lasting images of the past regime. I know, bad memories. But that's what happens when a squad assembled by Alessio Secco does something bad. You want to toss those things away, but it's incredibly difficult to actually do so.
Luckily we're able to forget that now. Thank you, Mister Conte.
Thursday brought the first three opponents for Juventus in the return voyage of Europe and the Champions League, as the 32-team field for Europe's premier club competition was announced in Monaco. In what was a drawn out procedure, the Italian champions were grouped with the current Champions League title holders Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Denmark's Nordsjaelland, a newcomer to European football.
Now, a quick look at who Juventus will be facing in the group stage (Group E) of the 2012/13 version of the UEFA Champions League.
Last season: Champions League winners; Sixth in the English Premier League
What we know: One of Europe's biggest spenders this summer, Chelsea have re-enforced its squad by spending a boat-load of cash. The most notable signing, Edin Hazard, has been off to a fast start in his first three EPL games, recording a goal and four assists to help lead Chelsea to the early lead in the league.
As defending European champions, Chelsea is obviously going to be one of the favorites to make it deep into the Champions League again this season. The London club has done a lot like Juventus has, adding a lot of squad depth to an already very good team. (You can admit it, guys. They have talent.)
Last season: Ukrainian Premier League champions
What we know: Donetsk isn't just a location where the recent European Championships, it's been home to a dangerous team not only domestically, but also on the Champions League stage. As stated over on SBN's Chelsea blog, We Ain't Got No History, with a relatively weak league domestically, Shakhtar will be able to put a good amount of its attention towards the Champions League. And with the squad relatively the same from over the past few seasons, Shakhtar is poised to potentially make some noise in Group E (although I'm sure Juventus will have something to say about that.)
Last season: Danish Superliga champions
What we know: It's not much. Nordsjaelland are the obvious minnows in the group. With no Champions League — or European as a whole for that matter — experience to rely on, the three other teams will be looking at the two contests against Nordsjaelland as a good bet to get the maximum six points out of the possible six.
- Sept. 19 - Juventus vs. Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, London
- Oct. 2 - Juventus vs. Shakhtar at Juventus Stadium, Torino
- Oct. 23 - Juventus vs. Nordsjaelland at Farum Park, Farum
- Nov. 7 - Juventus vs. Nordsjaelland at Juventus Stadium, Torino
- Nov. 20 - Juventus vs. Chelsea at Juventus Stadium, Torino
- Dec. 5 - Juventus vs. Shakhtar at Donbass Arena, Donetsk