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Football | Champions League

Blues 'title thirst remains unquenched'



Chelsea begin their quest to become the first team to win back-to-back Champions League titles on Wednesday when they entertain a Juventus side still getting used to matchdays without their coach.

The Londoners ended a long wait to become kings of Europe for the first time by beating Bayern Munich on penalties on a memorable night in the German club's Allianz Arena in May but manager Roberto Di Matteo said their thirst for trophies remained unquenched.

"The owner (Roman Abramovich) has never lost his ambition," Di Matteo said ahead of the Group E opener at Stamford Bridge. "He always wants to win with this club and continue to drive for excellence.

"As long as he is at the helm his ambition to win will never diminish."

Chelsea have made a good start to their domestic season and are riding high at the top of the Premier League with three wins and one draw from their opening four games.

However, they have failed to win their last two matches, suffering an embarrassing 4-1 defeat by Atletico Madrid in the European Super Cup in Monaco and being held to a 0-0 draw at neighbours Queens Park Rangers in a feisty Premier League encounter on Saturday.

'Handshake-gate' took centre stage at Loftus Road, with QPR defender Anton Ferdinand refusing to acknowledge Chelsea pair John Terry and Ashley Cole before kickoff, but it was also apparent that the European champions were some way short of their best.

The performance of Fernando Torres was also a cause for concern for Chelsea fans as he spent most of the match arguing with the officials over perceived refereeing injustices.

The Spain striker was replaced by Daniel Sturridge with 10 minutes to go and prompted several raised eyebrows when he ran straight down the tunnel.

Di Matteo said he understood why Torres was so disappointed.

"Players are generally not happy to come off," said the Chelsea manager. "He showed a bit of frustration but it's not a problem for us.

"He had a chance to score in the first half and a half-decent chance in the second half as well. He played his part in the game.

"We can't put too much pressure on one player. We are a team and everybody has responsibility and we are looking for other players to score goals as well," added Di Matteo.

CONTE BAN

Juventus coach Antonio Conte will be absent from the bench because of a 10-month ban for his role in not reporting match-fixing while boss of Siena last year.

Conte, who has strenuously denied the allegations, is appealing against the suspension.

Assistant coach Massimo Carrera is covering for Conte on the bench and a row has broken out in Italy over what the ban actually means and whether Conte can train the squad in private.

Juve started several big names, including Mirko Vucinic and Kwadwo Asamoah, on the bench for the 3-1 win at Genoa on Sunday in order to save them for the Champions League.

However, The Serie A champions needed both players to come on as substitutes in a game where they were second best for long spells.

Vucinic and Asamoah netted late goals to help the Serie A leaders make it three wins from the opening three league games of the season.

Probable teams:

Chelsea: 1-Petr Cech; 2-Branislav Ivanovic, 4-David Luiz, 26-John Terry, 3-Ashley Cole; 8-Frank Lampard, 12-John Obi Mikel, 7-Ramires; 17-Eden Hazard, 10-Juan Mata, 9-Fernando Torres.

Juventus: 1-Gianluigi Buffon; 26-Stephan Lichtsteiner, 15-Andrea Barzagli, 19-Leonardo Bonucci, 3-Giorgio Chiellini, 22-Kwadwo Asamoah; 23-Arturo Vidal, 21-Andrea Pirlo, 8-Claudio Marchisio; 12-Sebastian Giovinco, 9-Mirko Vucinic.

Referee: Pedro Proenca

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