Chelsea face a must win clash against Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the Champions League, as they look to move closer to making the last 16. With just two games left in the group stage, time is running out for the Blues to chase down leaders Porto. Can they pull off a win in Israel to keep their hopes of topping the group alive?
After their last gasp 2-1 win over Dynamo Kiev last time out, Chelsea are well placed to make the last 16. They’re currently second in the group, and with Kiev away to Porto on Tuesday, someone will be dropping points. That means a win here is crucial, to gain ground on the losers and keep pace with the winners.
While they’re doing ok in the three way fight, there’s still work to be done. Jose Mourinho will want his side to top the group to get what should be an easier task in the draw for the last 16. Fail to do that, and we could be welcoming the likes of Bayern Munich or Barcelona to the Bridge as early as February. With the Premier League title gone, it’d be nice to keep the Champions League hopes alive a little longer.
A win here should set up a big showdown with Porto in the final game, which is at home. But before that, the team need to win in Israel. Given that both of the other two in this group have managed that, a win here is the minimum required. Of course, if we’ve come to expect anything from Chelsea this term, it’s that no game is easy. This will be a test at least, or a disastrous shock at worst.
With almost a fully fit squad available for this one, let’s hope it’ll be a hard fought victory. No matter how badly the Blues are playing, this is a game they can’t slip up in. Remember, the team was mid crisis when they beat Maccabi 4-0 at home in the opening group game. A repeat of that result would be nice, although that might be pushing it a little too far.
Any win would do the trick right now. As we know from that incredible run in 2012, a poor group campaign doesn’t mean you can’t step up later on. We saw Chelsea toil in the group stage, qualifying on the final day before slowly improving as each round progressed. Right now the team don’t have to dazzle at this stage, they just have to ensure that they make it through the group.
Plus, 2013 told us that managers who look to have messed this stage up tend not to last at the club, no matter their status. This is a must win game for the club, the players and the manager. With pretty much everything on the line here, we see an away win, just barely.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1