Chelsea vs Valencia: Defensive uncertainty could hamper Blues’ Champions League bid

It's been a Roller Coaster ride watching Chelsea this season, but as Matthew Crist explains, they will have to approach their Champions League game against Valencia with a little more caution.

Matthew Crist

It certainly hasn’t been dull watching Chelsea so far this season with Frank Lampard’s side quickly establishing themselves as the Premier League’s entertainers.

However, they will have to be a little more disciplined when they take on Valencia in the Champions League on Tuesday if they are to have any hope of progressing to the latter stages of Europe’s premier club competition.

Having won the the Champions League as a player in 2012, the 41-year-old makes his managerial debut in the competition against the side the Blues beat on their way to lifting the trophy in Munich.

And finding the net doesn’t seem to be a problem for the Blues who once again looked dangerous going forward on Saturday as they five past Wolves, the only problem is, they are also leaking goals, which, in Europe, could be a big problem.

Youngsters Tammy Abraham, who bagged a hat-trick against Wolves, and Mason Mount have certainly caught the eye thanks to some dazzling attacking displays and Christian Pulisic has also looked dangerous in the wide areas and could hold the key to unlocking even the tightest of defences.

It’s a different story at the back, though, and in five of their last six matches Chelsea have failed to keep a clean sheet including their last home game which saw them throw away a two-goal lead against newly-promoted Sheffield United when all three points looked to be theirs.

Chelsea have let in no fewer than 11 goals in the league this season, the same number as they have scored, making for some captivating encounters but not necessarily the kind of form you want to be in ahead of a Champions League campaign.

Maybe not for the purists, watching Chelsea so far this year has provided plenty of excitement for the neutrals with both sides finding the net in their last five fixtures, so a Blues win & BTTS looks good value at 4.00.*

Chelsea Fans


Their cause won’t be helped by an injury to N’Golo Kante, who missed the trip to Molineux at the weekend, and remains a doubt for the game against Valencia while Antonio Rudiger also picked up a minor injury on his return to the first team.

Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek remains sidelined with an Achilles tendon injury; though on the plus side, Callum Hudson-Odoi will be hopeful of returning to the 18-man squad after coming through an Under-23s match having recovered from a ruptured Achilles.

One consolation for Lampard’s men is the fact that their Group H opponents, Valencia, are in absolute chaos following the departure of their manager just a few months after arriving at the Mestalla

The club’s decision to sack Marcelino not long after he had guided them to Champions League qualification and having won the Copa del Rey has baffled many onlookers, not to mention much of the playing staff, who look to have been affected by the change.

With former Barcelona midfielder Albert Celades at the helm, his first managerial appointment having once been assistant at Real Madrid, things could hardly have got off to a more difficult start.

His first game in charge ended in a 5-2 defeat to Barcelona at the weekend and though there is no shame in going down at the Nou Camp there is sure to be uncertainty around the camp as Valencia head to London.

Even so, “Los Che” shouldn’t be underestimated and could well provide Chelsea with their strongest test of the season at Stamford Bridge with a number of highly dangerous names who might just pounce on their defensive frailties.

Maxi Gomez and Kevin Gameiro are two players who are more than capable of causing a problem for the Chelsea defence while Goncalo Guedes, who enjoyed a decent world Cup with Portugal, is a dangerous prospect out wide, not just as a provider but a player who possesses the ability to cut-in and is 4.90* to find the net at anytime on Tuesday.

As in life, there are no certainties in football, but having seen how Chelsea have performed both in attack and defence so far this season, and the fact that Valencia offer a number of attacking options who might just have a point to prove – it’s easy to see why BTTS is currently 1.76.*


*Odds subject to change

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