Chelsea need to stifle Pirlo (Video)

And so it begins. A little under four months since that historic night in Munich, Chelsea are set to begin their defence of the Champions League. The Blues penalty shoot-out win against Bayern Munich last summer confirmed a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the West London side, who were on the verge of exiting the competition at the hands of Napoli at the last-16 stage.

However, Andre Villas-Boas was dismissed and in Roberto Di Matteo; Chelsea looked more solidified and it was the steel throughout the team that saw them upset the odds and lift the trophy for the first time in their history back in May. The defence of the title is one that has never been done by any team and the Blues face a staunch test in the form of Juventus if they are to do just that.

The Serie A giants travel to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in exceptional form, picking up maximum points in their first three domestic outings. They will need to continue that form if they are to pick up a positive result against Chelsea. Furthermore, the man at the hub of their upturn in fortunes will need to be firing on all cylinders if they are to pick up a shock result in West London.

I’m talking, of course, about Andrea Pirlo. The deep lying playmaker rolled back the years during Euro 2012, performing at his brilliant best as Italy reached the final of the tournament, only to face a rampant Spain and be on the receiving end of a 4-0 thumping. However, it was the performances of Pirlo that got people talking about the Azzuri.

The 33-year-old secured a shock switch from AC Milan last summer, a move that surprised fans of the Rossoneri and the Bianconeri. Yet, his creative influence was painstakingly evident as Juventus managed to go the entire 2011/12 season unbeaten, bar the Coppa Italia defeat to Napoli.

If Juventus are to pick up a positive result against Chelsea, Pirlo will need to continue his impressive form. However, if the Blues can stifle his influence, much like Genoa managed for the first half of the weekend encounter between the two sides, then the Old Lady will surely struggle against the Premier League giants in their quest to defend the Champions League.