Many readers, certainly Chelsea fans would baulk at the title that suggests that Chelsea have fallen down the ranking of European clubs. According to Eurosport's Power Index Rankings, Chelsea are currently in 8th place. For a snapshot of the latest rankings, see the table below:
Source: EuroSport Power Rankings, 06 Nov. 2012
While there is no surprise as to the table topper Barcelona, who have been multiple winners of the UEFA Champions League over the last few seasons, the presence of Manchester Clubs in the top 5 raises more questions than answers.
Manchester United have been consistent in the Champions League winning it last in 2008 and reaching the deciding stages. Seen in that context, they deserve to be highly ranked. But the rankings consider recent results as having higher weightage in the rankings. In that context, last season's debacle at United should mean they are really not the third best team in Europe.
Manchester City's European journey has been far less illustrious than their neighbours and last year's group phase exit means that their high ranking is simply not justified.
In contrast, Chelsea have consistently reached the last 4 of the Champions League over the last 8 years. They were runners-up in 2008 and eventually managed to win the coveted trophy in the 2011-12 season. On the basis of solid performances in the past 8 years, combined with their trophy winning run last year, Chelsea deserve a much higher place on the rankings.
But Chelsea have not been as bright in Europe this season. Some good performances might see them leapfrog Manchester City, Bayern Munich and even reach the 4th-5th spot as there is not much difference between those side as per the rankings.
This puts the home game against Shakhtar Donetsk in context. Chelsea simply have to win this one or else it will be a struggle for the European Champions to qualify from their group. Juan Mata has even compared it to last season's final match against Bayern Munich. Chelsea did managed to over turn a 1-3 deficit at home against Napoli to win 4-1 and 5-4 winners eventually.
Chelsea drew their last premier league match against Michael Laudrup's Swansea side and exhaustion, both mental and physical showed on their players. Roberto Di Matteo needs to juggle his squad very effectively to get Chelsea through this time of the season, considered their annual slump-phase.857119