Chelsea host Valencia in their final group game in the Uefa Champions League in a do-or-die encounter as they look to proceed to the knockouts.
Both sides face a real possibility of ending up in the Europa League. Chelsea will be hoping for a goalless draw coupled with a Genk loss, if not a win against Valencia, to progress whereas any other result will see the Spaniards progress at the Londoners expense.
The two sides are level on points, in Group E, with Valencia having a superior goal difference. Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas will be under immense pressure to prevent Chelsea from exiting the Champions League before Christmas for the first time. Considering Roman Abramovic's trigger-happy nature, the Portuguese manager could definitely get the sack if the Blues' fail.
However, Villas-Boas refused to contemplate the possibility of failure, and instead focused on what would have been had Chelsea not conceded late goals against Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen in the previous games.
We just have ourselves to blame,'' said Villas-Boas.During this campaign of five games, we've done pretty well in terms of performances, but the small details have gone away from us in the last couple of minutes, at Valencia and Leverkusen.
If that hadn't happened, we would have been sitting here in a familiar position, like in the past, and, most likely, having qualified.
Chelsea come to this game on the back of a morale-boosting win at high-flying Newcastle on Saturday. The Londoners will be hoping to carry on the momentum in what is a season-defining game.
Valencia will attack from the word go and having scored 11 goals in their last three matches will be confident of scoring. The Spaniards will need to score to progress and it will be a risky for Chelsea to sit back and defend. It all makes for an exciting, open game.
Here are the various scenarios possible -
- Chelsea will qualify if they win against Valencia or manage a goalless draw while Bayer Leverkusen avoids defeat against minnows Genk.
- If Leverkusen loses then only a win against Valencia can take Chelsea through.
- Valencia will qualify if they beat Chelsea or manage a score draw. A goalless draw will take them through if Leverkusen loses against Genk.
Villas-Boas has called for the fans to come out in full volume and make for an intimidating atmosphere at the Bridge. Chelsea will need it.
Chelsea will be without long-term absentee Michael Essien along with Romelu Lukaku and Ryan Bertrand, both of whom are not registered. Nicholas Anleka and Alex are also expected to remain on the sidelines having submitted their transfer requests to the club.
Valencia will be hoping Victor Ruiz can overcome an injury to make it to the starting team on Tuesday, especially as they're missing some other key players. Ever Banega, Sergio Canales, Ricardo Costa and Hedwiges Maduro will not play a part on Tuesday.
It will be nervous night at the Bridge and expect an open, attacking game from both sides. Goals will come in plenty, making it harder for Chelsea to qualify.