Chelsea vs. Valencia Preview

Uefa Champions League

Football
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Published: 12/12/2011

Just four months into his reign at Stamford Bridge and Andre Villas Boas is already feeling the heat after Chelsea’s poor start to the 2011-2012 campaign.

The Blues were knocked out of the Carling Cup at home to Liverpool, a second defeat in a fortnight at the hands of the Reds who also beat them in the Premier League.

Sitting a massive twelve points behind leaders Manchester City, Chelsea’s only hope of a major trophy this season now realistically lies well and truly with the biggest honour of all – the Champions League.

That, of course, is the accolade which owner Roman Abramovich has been itching to get his hands on ever since taking the plunge to buy the West Londoners nine years ago.

Since then, the Russian has initiated a number of hiring’s and firing’s in the midst of both success and failure, including that of Jose Mourinho who for many should have stayed in the post for the long term.

Villas Boas, who worked under the watchful eye of Mourinho for a number of years, was given the opportunity to make a name for himself at the Bridge and deliver European glory after an excellent start to his managerial career at Porto.

The appointment of a man of such tender age naturally turned a great deal of heads and immediately invited a wealth of pressure onto his young shoulders.

The Portuguese’s failure to hit the ground running has left many fans disconcerted and worried about the club in the long term as critics continue to speculate on the 33 year-olds future.

Chelsea’s final group fixture at home to Valencia could well decide the fate of Villas Boas as well as the club’s path moving forward into the New Year.

Quite simply, Chelsea have to win or record a goalless draw to progress to the knockout stages and preserve their status as one of the most dangerous teas on the continent.

So far, the team has clearly failed to fire under the guidance of the new manager who will be adamantly seeking to tighten a defence which has leaked goals left, right and centre.

In addition, the ageing side which Villas Boas has inherited seems to have lost a certain amount of its attacking impetus.

Valencia, like Chelsea, are a side who many regard as European nearly men after reaching the final in 2000, 2001 and perennially making the latter stages thereafter.

Recent times have seen the Spanish outfit lose a number of their best players including David Villa and Juan Mata – however they have still managed to remain a force and continue to play the exciting, technically sound football which they are renowned for.

Chelsea certainly cannot afford to try and play out a draw and they must look to attack from the off to put themselves in the driving seat.

An early goal for the home side could really spark a Champions League classic, however if Valencia are able to weather the early storm, anxiety could really start to build amongst the Chelsea team, bench and crowd.

At odds of around 4/6, Chelsea do not look great value considering the dire form which they have been in.

Valencia more than proved a match for them at the Mestalla and are more than capable of pulling off a result in the reverse fixture.

It is hard to avoid the lure of a draw at around 11/4, however any bets may be best left until after the opening exchanges to determine how this crucial, knife edge tie may unravel.


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