Chelsea needs to win to have any hope of repeating its 2011-12 success. Image courtesy of news.com.au/AFP
On paper, this should be the easiest of wins for Chelsea . It’s a collection of some of the most talented footballers from across the globe, brought together thanks to Roman Abramovich’s billions, taking on a Danish outfit which plays in a 10,000-seat stadium contesting its first UEFA Champions League. It’s a stark contrast, but the simple fact is the Blues need to beat FC Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge on Thursday morning to have any hope of qualifying for the next stage of the competition.
Even if Chelsea wins, it is still relying on Shakhtar Donetsk beating Juventus in the Ukraine to progress. If results don’t go the London side’s way, they’ll become the first Champions League title holders to fall at the group stage. The 3-0 loss to Juve in Turin last time around was the final straw for Abramovich before going on to dump then manager Roberto Di Matteo. New manager Rafael Benitez led Liverpool to a famous victory in the 2005 Champions League, but Chelsea’s destiny is out of its hands for the moment.
Chelsea went through the whole of November without a win in any competition, and December didn’t start any better with West Ham destroying Benitez’s team 3-1 at Upton Park last weekend. It’s a stunning fall from grace for a side which won seven of its first eight Premier League matches this campaign.
FC Nordsjaelland won its first Danish Superliga last season, but it has found life amongst Europe’s best tough so far. A point from a 1-1 draw at home with Juventus is all the Danes have to show for their efforts so far. Away from home they’ve lost 2-0 to Shakhtar and 4-0 to Juventus, while Chelsea destroyed them 4-0 on Matchday 2. The Blues’ home record last season was nothing short of outstanding winning all six matches at Stamford Bridge. This season, though, they’ve drawn with Juve and snuck home 3-2 against the Ukrainians.
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