Chelsea head to Ukraine on Tuesday night hoping to get their Champions League campaign back on track. The Blues slipped down to third in the group after defeat in Porto in their last game, and they’ll be looking to reassert themselves over the course of the double header against Dynamo.
While the Champions League group stage often lacks much tension in these kinds of games, this match will be huge for Jose Mourinho and his men. Remember, it was the failings in this competition that cost Roberto Di Matteo his job. If the Blues are on course for the next round, Mourinho is fine. If they were looking short of that, then the manager should get worried.
This game in Ukraine is the type of banana skin that can cost teams in the group stage. Chelsea come here expecting to win, but they know that the long flight and hostile atmosphere will be a daunting obstacle. There is plenty that can go wrong here on a good day, and Mourinho has seen few of them this term.
One bonus is the recent Champions League performances. Despite losing in Porto, the display wasn’t actually that bad. Defensively they can certainly improve, but on another day Chelsea would have come back from that game with at least a point. The Portuguese side almost won their opening game in Ukraine, before a late Dynamo equaliser, so this isn’t exactly a fortress.
A lot will depend on the approach in this game, as the Blues squad seems pretty fragile right now. The best tactic would seem to be keeping things tight for the first half an hour to let the team find their feet. That would relax any nerves, especially among any squad or young players who are in the team.
With Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic possibly out, we could see younger replacements like Kurt Zouma and Abdul Baba Rahman. Those two haven’t got much experience of these tricky away ties, so they’ll need time to settle. Mourinho also promised Rueben Loftus-Cheek a run in the team, given the form of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic. If the youngster plays here, he can’t necessarily be expected to hit the ground running.
This Champions League campaign so far has shown us that you simply can’t take sides for granted at this level any more. Dynamo are capable of causing a shock, but Chelsea can’t afford to let that happen. Strong leadership will be key, which is why we should expect to see John Terry start in this one. Diego Costa will play a crucial role up front, and don’t be surprised to see a 4-3-3 formation with two holding players.
Despite recent troubles, Mourinho and his side simply have to perform. They have no excuses right now, a match of this magnitude needs a big display. With qualification essentially on the line, we’re backing the Premier League champions to get the job done.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1