Chelsea face a massive clash at home to Porto on Wednesday night as they fight for their future in the Champions League. Going into the final game, no one has yet secured qualification from this group, with three sides battling to finish in the top two and make it into the draw for the last 16. Can the Blues get a result to secure progression, or will this be another big blow in a very tough season?
This group was going pretty much to plan until the last round of games. The Blues looked to be a win away from qualifying, but results elsewhere took it out of their hands. Dynamo Kiev’s win in Porto turned this group upside down, stopped the Blues from qualifying, and left a three way fight for the top two.
Dynamo currently sit third in the group, but they have the easiest job this week. They face bottom club Maccabi Tel-Aviv at home in the last game, and they know a win will take them through. Given that Maccabi haven’t picked up a point in this group so far, it’s hard to see anything stopping the Ukrainian side from making in through.
That leaves one place up for grabs, with Chelsea and Porto fighting for it at the Bridge. The Blues need to avoid defeat to go through, while the Portuguese side know they need a win. Should these two draw and Kiev win, all three would be on 11 points, which would leave Dynamo top and Chelsea second.
Jose Mourinho would clearly much rather see his team finish top of the group, which would see them avoid the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the next round. Don’t expect to see the team grinding out a draw here, they should push for a win and try and take top spot. Had you offered fans anything other than top at the start of the season it’s pretty unlikely they’d have taken it.
So, expect the Blues boss to go for a pretty attacking team, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro set to start. Diego Costa should be playing up front again, with the pairing of Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas in midfield. John Terry remains a doubt after getting injured in the win over Maccabi, while Ramires is set to miss out as well. This game comes a little too early for Thibaut Courtois, although he’s set to make a comeback this month.
This game is probably the biggest of the season so far for the Blues. Given the poor league start, it’s not unthinkable that defeat here could be the last taste of Champions League action at the Bridge for a while. Qualifying for next season’s competition is tall order, so it’s best to make this one count. We think the Blues will scrape through, but they’ll need to improve drastically by the time the next round comes along in February.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0