Chelsea travel to the BayArena on Wednesday November 23rd to take on Bayer Leverkusen in their Group E Champions League game and manager André Villas-Boas will be hoping for a win to secure progression to the next phase for the Blues. Kick off 19:45 GMT.
Victory for Leverkusen however, will see them leapfrog Chelsea to assume the top spot in Group E with only one game left to play.
Chelsea defeated Leverkusen 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, through goals from David Luiz and Juan Mata, but their form has since dipped; they have lost three of their last four league games, including a loss to rivals Liverpool, and Leverkusen will hope to take advantage of a demoralised camp.
Despite tasting defeat in their first encounter with Chelsea, Leverkusen possess a flawless record at home in the group stage, but have been experiencing similar fortunes to Chelsea in that they have only won one in their last four Bundesliga games.
Talismanic midfielder, Michael Ballack will be a massive presence for Leverkusen and manager Robin Dutt will be relying on the former Germany captain’s knowledge of the Chelsea team as well as his overall charisma to rally his troops to qualification on Wednesday evening.
Winger, Sidney Sam will also prove to be a handful for the Londoners. Sam, a former Germany under-21 international, praised Chelsea’s talented team, but believes his side have the requisite ability to stun the Blues in Germany.
Chelsea trained normally this week, but rumours are rife that Villas-Boas has lost the dressing room and failure to defeat Leverkusen on Wednesday will add fuel to the speculation that Guus Hiddink is being lined up to succeed the Portuguese manager.
With so much seemingly resting on the outcome of the game Villas-Boas is unlikely to make too many changes to his side and Frank Lampard should retain his place in midfield, although Raul Meireles may feature at the expense of John Obi Mikel who was replaced at half time against Liverpool.
Fernando Torres may come in ahead of Drogba, while Villas-Boas may reward Daniel Sturridge, who scored against Liverpool, with a start.
Three of Leverkusen’s five goals in the group stage have come from midfield so they will be relying on the likes of Ballack, Sam and Bender to supply to magic, but Germany striker Kiessling provides a potent threat up front.
Chelsea have thus far managed two draws away from home in the group stage, my prediction: 1-1 (6/1 on Betfair, 12/5 for a draw) – Market Link: http://sports.betfair.com/Index.do?mi=104342794&ex=1&origin=MRL?rfr=16791
Chelsea (probable) Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz, Cole, Lampard, Meireles, Ramires, Mata, Torres, Sturridge
Leverkusen (probable) Leno, Schwaab, Toprak, Reinartz, Castro, Ballack, Bender, Sam, Renato, Augusto, Schurrle, Kiessling