Torres axed as faith put in Hazard to help Chelsea get Juventus result

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Four goals in 12 Premier League games is not the greatest return for a lone striker, of a top team, with an array of attacking riches behind him and this may be the leading reason why Fernando Torres is to be dropped for Chelsea’s crunch Champions League game at Juventus.

However, growing speculation suggests that it will not be Daniel Sturridge starting in attack instead, but Eden Hazard leading the line in a bold move by Roberto Di Matteo for such a valuable game.

Chelsea will believe they can beat Group E weak link Nordsjaelland in their final match at Stamford Bridge, which suggests that a point in Turin will be enough to seal their passage to the Champions League knockout rounds.

Although setting up for a point is a dangerous strategy, Di Matteo is right to adopt a more defensive mindset, given that one of the chief criticisms labelled at his formation this season is the lack of cover offered to the full-backs.

Hazard is arguably the worst for leaving the left-back exposed and playing him as a false number nine should provide better protection to Ashley Cole.

This could mean Ryan Bertrand being pushed into midfield as was the case in the Champions League final with Bayern Munich, while Ramires was also played wider at times towards the end of last season and is another option.

The overall impact is that Chelsea will be harder to break down and so 1/1 may prove a valuable price that under 2.5 goals are scored at Juventus.

Juventus also drew 0-0 with Lazio in their latest Serie A fixture and the consensus was that they struggled to break down a team happy to put numbers behind the ball.

Being clinical in attack will be vital for Chelsea, which is perhaps why Di Matteo has opted against starting Torres or Sturridge up front and Hazard is 10/1 to reward his manager’s decision with the opening goal.

Meanwhile, Ajax benefited from a similar decision with Christian Eriksen against Manchester City and so Chelsea appeal slightly at 7/2 for victory.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.