England’s Chelsea hosts Napoli of Italy at Stamford Bridge on March 14 in the second leg of their European Champions League tie with the English club trailing 3-1. Chelsea is the only British club left in the tournament and if they fail to advance it will be Britain’s worst showing in the Champions League for the last 16 years. The last time a British team failed to reach the quarterfinals was back in the 1995/1996 season.
There have been some changes at Chelsea since losing the first leg as Portuguese manager Andre Villas-Boas was sacked. Since then they’ve beaten Birmingham 2-0 in the FA Cup and beat Stoke 1-0 on Saturday. It was the first time in two months the club has kept two straight clean sheets. In addition, captain John Terry has returned to the line-up after missing several games with an injury.
Terry and the rest of the Chelsea defenders will need to keep their eyes on Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani to make sure they keep them off the scoreboard. Roberto Di Matteo, who took over as the interim manager from Villas-Boas, said his players will have to be aware of the Italians’ counter attacking abilities.
Napoli is on a hot streak at the moment with six straight wins and 17 goals in those games so that means Chelsea has their work cut out for them. Their last win came on Friday as they beat Cagliari in a Serie A game. The English side will likely have to play without defender Jose Bosingwa who has an injured hamstring and midfielder Raul Meireles who is suspended.
This is the ninth year in a row that Chelsea has made it to the last 16 of the Champions League, but they’ve only won three tournament matches so far this season out of seven even though they’ve had the lead in every game. They scored first in Napoli before letting in three consecutive goals. Napoli won the UEFA Cup back in 1989 when Diego Maradona played for the club.
Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri is suspended for the game since he was given as two-game touchline ban in a group game against Spanish side Villarreal. This is going to be a tough task for Chelsea to overcome. They have to win the leg by two goals and a 2-0 win would put them through to the next round. A 3-1 win would see the game go I to extra time.
They don’t really have any choice other than to attack, but they’re going to have to make sure they play well defensively too. They have enough scoring power in Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Dean Sturridge, and Juan Mata. However Fernando Torres has been a huge flop since leaving Liverpool to join Chelsea. Chelsea could do enough in this game to force it into extra time.
Sportsbook William Hill has the current odds of a Chelsea win at 17/20 and a Napoli victory at 16/5 with a 90-minute draw at 5/2.