Rafael Benitez heads into his fourth match in charge of Chelsea knowing that failure to record a first victory will see the European champions end their defense at the first hurdle.
Chelsea need to beat Danish side Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge while hoping that Shakhtar Donetsk can do them a huge favor by beating Juventus in Ukraine. Given that Shakhtar’s progress to the knockout phase is already confirmed and they only need a point to guarantee top spot in Group E, it is not a scenario that breeds confidence.
Benitez, however, was sounding positive tones in the buildup.
“Do we need a miracle to go through? I don't think it's a miracle,” Benitez said, according to UEFA.com. “We have to do our job and wait for the other teams. Shakhtar are a very good team and I think they can beat Juventus.
“So no, it's not a miracle—sometimes we need a bit of luck. The only thing I can try is to win our game—I have confidence that Shakhtar can beat Juventus. They have players that want to be seen around the world. They know they have to perform.”
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First Chelsea need to worry about their own result. While Nordsjaelland have been the whipping boys of the group, taking just a single point against Juventus, Chelsea are not in a position to take any victory for granted in their current form.
The Blues have failed to record a win in six matches, with Benitez having been unable to aid his already difficult position with two draws and a defeat in his first matches at the helm.
David Luiz is available again after missing Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at West Ham through suspension, but John Terry, Frank Lampard and Daniel Sturridge will still be missing through injury.
Nordsjaelland currently sit second in the Danish league standings, nine points behind FC Copenhagen, and with hopes fading of retaining their title.
Kasper Hjulmand’s side will be missing key defender Jores Okore for the trip to London to add to the injuries of Lasse Petry and Joe Sise.
D: Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole
M: Ramires, Mikel
Mata, Oscar, Hazard
D: Parkhurst, Gundelach, Runje, Mtiliga
M: Adu, Stokholm
Lorentzen, Nordstrand, John
Prediction: It can be hard to see where the next victory will come from for Chelsea at the moment. All is not right with the Blues, either on or off the pitch. However, a home fixture with Nordsjaelland should be an opportunity to try and restore some confidence with a victory. Whether that proves enough to see them through to the next stage is an entirely different matter.
Chelsea 2-0 Nordsjaelland
Where to watch: The Champions League Group E match kicks-off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.