Chelsea FC’s need for speed as they face old Juventus masters Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

More than 72 hours after Chelsea’s first defeat of the season, Thomas Tuchel was still stewing over what went wrong against Manchester City.

But the German has little time to lick his wounds, with tonight’s Champions League clash at Juventus representing another daunting challenge.

Tuchel got it wrong on Saturday — and ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Turin, he seemed more prepared to accept that possibility than in the immediate aftermath of the game.

“Of course we analysed,” he said. “We were not happy with our defensive [performance]. We were too passive against Manchester City.

“The defensive choices, the defensive plan and my responsibility maybe led to this passive behaviour. That was not the plan.”

It was rare to see Tuchel fail to come up with the solutions against Pep Guardiola. His ability to outmanoeuvre opponents has been the key feature of his time at Chelsea — not least in the Champions League, which is where his focus switches to tonight at Juve’s Allianz Stadium.

The Italian giants are not the force they once were but at the back they have the bedrock of Italy’s Euro 2020 success in defensive stalwarts Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

The brothers in belligerence were too tight for the rest of Europe this summer, eventually strangling the life out of England in the final.

The image of Chiellini garrotting Bukayo Saka late on at Wembley perfectly summed up their by-whatever-means-necessary approach to the art of defending — their obsessive devotion to keeping the opposition out. 

But it also provided a pointer to how Chelsea can get at the pair, who are a combined age of 71.

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Saka’s pace terrified Chiellini, who could only resort to the dark arts to avoid being brutally exposed.

Chelsea have plenty of that up front but will have to better utilise it if they are avoid a similar fate as Saturday.

Against City, Tuchel expected Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner to hit on the counter with quick breaks. Instead they played much of the match with their back to goal, rarely getting behind Ruben Dias or Aymeric Laporte.

A repeat of that will play right into the hands of Chiellini and Bonucci, who are more comfortable with a physical confrontation than being forced to turn and run towards their own goal.

Jorginho, who was alongside them for Italy’s triumph in the summer, now has the role of trying to help Tuchel come up with a way past them — and there was no evidence of a conflict of interest as he identified their vulnerabilities.

“Obviously, they are very strong,” said the midfielder. “They know how to defend their box because they are very organised.

“They have been there for many years and we need to try to break them by speed, energy.

“We know it is going to be difficult. We respect them.”

Chiellini and Bonucci’s love of the physical battle will be put to the test by Lukaku (left, in training yesterday), who was the topic of conversation among the Italy squad in the summer amid his links with a return to Chelsea.

While he scored a penalty for Belgium in his country’s quarter-final defeat by Italy, he was largely subdued in that match. But his record of 64 goals in 95 appearances for Inter Milan re-established him as one of the deadliest strikers in the world.

Yet Tuchel accepts Chelsea must utilise him better than they did against City. “We’ve shown we can play a high-pressing game and have high ball-recoveries with Romelu,” he said.

“It’s a very complex game where we have to be in all the spaces, but the best way to defend is having the ball and then to counter-press without the ball.

“City did this excellently. We underperformed — they made us underperform. But there’s enough room to bounce back and this is necessary to show that we are adapting to our players.”

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