Ranieri Doesn’t Fancy A Return To Chelsea

Juventus boss Claudio Ranieri doesn’t fancy playing his former club in the knock-out stages of the Champions League.  Juve finished top of their group and Chelsea, as we know, finished second behind Roma which means a meeting between the two sides is a possibility.

However, despite Ranieri’s preference to avoid us if he can, he’s certainly not sentimental about a potential reunion. The former Chelsea manager says “The strongest would have to be Chelsea.  But if we have to face them at some stage we might as well eliminate them at once.”

I’m sure Ranieri would be warmly welcomed if the draw sees us up against Juve but I’ve no doubt he’d be hoping to walk away from Stamford Bridge a happier man this time around.

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CHELSEA 2-1 CFR Cluj: Another Forgettable Night In Europe

CHELSEA 2-1 CFR CLUJ

Well, Chelsea had been warned Cluj weren’t just coming to make up the numbers last night and so it turned out as we recorded a marginal 2-1 win to go through to the last 16 of the Champions League.

The first half was as dull as ditch water, with not much to write home about as Chelsea did the usual ‘huff and puff’ routine at home. I mean, we didn’t particularly look like we would lose but then again, with our attack looking about as effective as  an umbrella in a hurricane, it wasn’t the most entertaining game we’ll ever see.  Any threat from our left backs was smothered, our defence had more holes than a tramps vest and our midfield looked like they’d never met before the game.

To suggest Joe Cole was our liveliest player and he’s probably not even match fit, is probably the best way of describing the first half.  To be fair though, I thought Mikel had a decent game although even a rush of blood to the head for him didn’t help the nerves much.

Still, even with  Kalou’s first half opener wiped out early in the second by a bloody good equaliser, the fact that it was now against the run of play was a good enough omen – well, that and the fact Roma were beating Bordeaux anyway.  And just when I was ranting about Scolari’s persistent delay in substitutions, on came the Ivorian to save the day.

Drogba, who took his time lapping up the adulation before he threw himself head first into the game, had an immediate impact.  Inspired by the substitution, Chelsea looked a lot more assured and never more so than after the winner was dispatched sublimely off Drogba’s foot and into the back of the net six minutes into his game.

Overall then, another forgettable game in the Champions League but the win that we needed means we can breathe easy again for now.

 

TEAM

Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, A Cole, Mikel (Bridge 87), Ballack, Deco, J Cole, (Belletti 74), Anelka, Kalou (Drogba 65)

Unused subs: Cudicini, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Stoch

 

Goals

Chelsea: Kalou 40, Drogba 71

CFR Cluj: Kone 56

CHELSEA vs CFR Cluj: Video Preview

Chelsea host CFR Cluj at Stamford Bridge tonight in the final Champions League group match. Watch the video preview here.

CHELSEA vs CFR Cluj: Preview

 

 

 

 

Chelsea haven’t exactly excelled themselves in the Champions League so far this season and haven’t managed to win away, so maybe it’s just as well we’re at home tonight. Then again, our home form doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence either so we could be in for a nervy time as Chelsea take on Cluj at Stamford Bridge.

Our 3-1 defeat in Rome and draws away to Bordeaux and Cluj, means a win is a must for us tonight in case the other game in the group conspires against us.  And whilst Cluj can’t qualify, if they play for pride or park a bus on the pitch, we could be in serious trouble.

Michael Ballack certainly seems cautious going into this game, stating Normally at this stage we are qualified but we didn’t play well every game.  We have the last game at home but we don’t have to speak so much about this. We have to win.  Sometimes you can’t explain things and normally at home especially we are very strong.  But in the last weeks with the first defeat for a long time, we lost a little bit of something and we couldn’t make the results that we wanted.”

Cluj’s Yssouf Kone meanwhile is clear the Romanians won’t be bending over to accommodate a seeing to either, stating I heard that Scolari would go back to Brazil if they didn’t beat us.  But if Chelsea don’t beat us tomorrow, he will really be in trouble. We will try our best tomorrow because it is really important for us to go back home with a result. Right now Chelsea are under the pressure, the biggest pressure in the group. Chelsea will have to work hard to beat us but it won’t be easy for them. We will be playing without any pressure. They have big players but we are not bad either. It will be worth more than just three points to us if we win.”

Even with nothing to gain from the fixture, Cluj coach Maurizio Trombetta wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset tonight, claiming “Playing against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge is enough motivation for us.  Unfortunately for us we have no chance of going any further. But we were outsiders in Rome and won and so maybe with a little luck and concentration, we can to it again against Chelsea.”

As for the Chelsea boss though, he’s having none of it, saying  “Is it unthinkable that Chelsea go out? Well, I don’t think any people in the world are thinking about this, but it is possible because we have given this opportunity to the other teams.  Yes, I am disappointed because of what’s happened. But I don’t think about going out because I believe in these players and I believe we’ll reach the second round. Now I don’t know if it will be in first position or second position because it’s not in our hands, but it’s normal if we think about beating Cluj here in London. But we will need to play better in the second round than we have so far if we want to go on.”

On the injury front for Chelsea, Michael Essien (knee), Juliano Belletti (ankle), Ricardo Carvalho (knee) and Franco Di Santo (hamstring) all remain out of contention. Florent Malouda is a doubt with a slight knock, although Joe Cole could be fit enough to return. Frank Lampard also misses out through suspension.

Chelsea

(from): Cech, Cudicini, Hilario, Bosingwa, Ferreira, Alex, Terry, Ivanovic, Deco, Mikel, Ballack, J Cole, A Cole, Bridge, Kalou, Anelka, Drogba, Stoch.
 
 

 

Chelsea: Another Poor Night In Europe

BORDEAUX 1-1 CHELSEA

Well that was pretty crap I have to say. We can happily beat teams away in the Premier League but when it comes to the Champions League, Chelsea couldn’t play any worse if they turned up in stilettos. And to think we were fortunate to even come away with the draw we got is even more depressing.

But, yet again, Chelsea put in a really poor performance in Europe. No energy, no creativity, no desire, nothing. Maybe the fact we’d thumped Bordeaux last time around worked against them because the fact that they needed to put a little effort in didn’t seem to cross their minds last night. And if we’re honest, Bordeaux were all over us and their equaliser was the least they deserved.

We have Petr Cech’s goalkeeping skills to thank for keeping us in it for the first 45 minutes and Nicolas Anelka’s goal on the hour, gave us a 1-0 scoreline that would have flattered us. Fortunately for them though, the Chelsea of old – you remember, the one that could hold on to a 1-0 lead? – appears to be a thing of the past as Diarra headed in the equaliser amid some of the worst Chelsea defending I’ve seen in a while.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Frank Lampard’s suicidal challenge, bearing in mind he knew he was already on a yellow, saw him leave the field earlier than expected. And with us now needing a win at home to a Cluj side we couldn’t break down in our last meeting, things probably couldn’t feel any worse for us right now.

 

TEAMS

BORDEAUX

Valverde, Chalme, Planus, Diawara, Jurietti, Menegazzo, Diarra, Gourcuff, Gouffran (Cavenaghi 67), Wendell (Obertan 75), Chamakh.

CHELSEA

Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, A Cole, Mikel, J Cole (Ferreira 85), Ballack, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka (Drogba 63)

Champions League: Chelsea Fail To Turn Up In Rome

Well the hacks at The Sun will no doubt have been wanking themselves silly over this one.

Having put out some ridiculous story yesterday about how Chelsea had already ‘booked themselves into a hotel’ ahead of next year’s Champions League final – such is their ‘arrogance’ – they then got a real excuse to have a go at us.

Of course the hotel ‘story’ was the usual rubbish, borne out of Scolari jokingly answering questions designed with the specific intention of ‘proving’ how cocky Chelsea are these days. And yet ironically, the way they played last night, showed anything but a desire to actually need a hotel booking in the first place.

A minimal amount of early pressure from Chelsea, a couple of shots from distance, and that appeared to be as much effort as we were going to put in for the night – who’d have thought a 2 hour flight over to Italy could be so draining?

Harsh maybe? Not really, considering the amount of movement in defending the first goal – although even the word ‘defending’ here is generous in the extreme. So that was that then, or at least it was as far as we were concerned. I mean, why bother playing now we’d conceded our first Champions League goal of the campaign? They obviously thought they might as well concede two or three, because that’s exactly what they did while they sat back and took a bit of a battering.

It was like Avram Grant revisited as total amnesia set in where playing football was concerned. Then finally, two Lord’s Prayer’s and three Hail Mary’s later, John Terry popped up to pull one back. Although even then, it raised not even a single, solitary eyebrow, because in all honestly, even the most optimistic of supporters knew there was never going to be a way back into this game the way we’d played it. Somehow, even John Terry’s customary rallying cry as he headed back to the centre-circle had much less conviction about it on a night where we being described as ‘average’ could only be taken as a compliment.

Of course it’s not all over for us – unless you happen to read The Sun that is – we still top the group, albeit by the narrowest of margins now. But Deco’s second yellow card and resulting red won’t have helped our cause, and whilst it might have been a nonsense, if the first midfielder hadn’t picked up an unnecessary yellow to start with then he wouldn’t even have been in that position.

But anyway, it’s done now and there can be no excuses. Chelsea simply didn’t perform and they got punished for it – and the hacks haven’t even started yet.

AS Roma vs CHELSEA: CL Preview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chelsea will be looking to make it ten points from four games and a place in the last 16 as they face AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in tonight’s Champions League game. Roma meanwhile, who lost by a narrow 1-0 to us at Stamford Bridge a couple of weeks ago, will be fighting to stay in this season’s competition.

The Italians pretty much defended against us for 90 minutes in our last meeting, only conceding a John Terry header 13 minutes from time. However, they have lost their last five games and won’t be wanting to make it six in succession.

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti says “In every type of work or occupation a person may find themselves in difficult situations. Despite all the odds a person wants to do well. It happens abroad as well. As I said before, our problems are particular and more difficult to deal with. In Turin we were doing well until the goal we conceded. Then in the second half we had difficulties. I believe that the match against Chelsea is the most important one of all, other than in the league. We need to get a good result.”

Luiz Felipe Scolari meanwhile, when questioned about Chelsea’s chances in the competition stated “It’s a long way to go to May and first we need to win (tonight), or get a minimum of one point. We need to qualify for the second round and then win every other round to reach the final. We’re not here to show the people something with May in mind. We have to beat Roma. We’re not here to prepare for May, if we have a chance to, for sure we’ll try to come back to this stadium.”

On the injury front, Scolari, who had said about Francesco Totti’s recent knee problem “When a coach loses a player like Totti, it’s good for the opposing team”, won’t be pleased to hear the Roma captain is likely to be fit. However, midfielder Alberto Aquilani is said to be struggling with a thigh injury.

For Chelsea, Ricardo Carvalho (hamstring), Michael Ballack (foot) and Michael Essien (knee) remain out and they’re joined by Ashley Cole (calf) after his injury at the weekend. Didier Drogba is still not considered to be fit for more than half an hour so Nicolas Anelka will start.

 

KEY PLAYERS

FRANCESCO TOTTI v JOHN TERRY

Roma captain Francesco Totti is the club’s record goalscorer and also has the record of most appearances for the club. He has to be Roma’s most dangerous player in attack and his power and skill could prove a handful for the Chelsea captain.

Chelsea captain John Terry won’t be Roma’s favourite player having scored the winning goal against them in our last meeting. Certainly that will have woken them up to his threat in the air, but I’m sure they’ll be expecting a difficult time getting past him as well, particularly since we’ve yet to concede in the Champions League.

DANIELE DE ROSSI v FRANK LAMPARD

Roma’s combative midfielder, Daniele de Rossi, has the task of protecting their back line. Lampard will need to be aware de Rossi is no tickler when it comes to tackling, he knows how to pass a ball, and our defence should me mindful of his eye for goal.

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard meanwhile, has hit some great form and should that continue tonight, he’ll be a handful in and around the box. His creative play, particularly when linking up with Deco, will almost certainly draw the odd free-kick from de Rossi.

PHILIPPE MEXES v NICOLAS ANELKA

Another of Roma’s idols and an integral first team player, Mexes is one of the backbones of the side. He’s considered to have great physical ability and his height has seen him claim the odd goal or two in his career as well, with 7 in 4 years at Roma to his credit.  On the plus side for Chelsea though, he is rumoured to have the odd lapse in concentration.

In the continued absence of Didier Drogba, Chelsea’s Nicolas Anelka has become Scolari’s first choice striker. The Chelsea manager seems to be getting the best out of the Frenchman, who has managed nine goals in Drogba’s absence so far. Anelka scored a hattrick in his last game and if that’s given his confidence the boost it needs, his pace, power and eye for goal could cause Mexes all sorts of problems.

 

CHELSEA TEAM

(from): Cech, Cudicini, Hilario, Terry, Alex, Bridge, Bosingwa, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Mikel, Belletti, Lampard, Deco, J Cole, Malouda, Kalou, Anelka, Drogba, Sinclair, Stoch