Chelsea travel to Basel determined to claim their place in the Champions League 2013 last 16. A single point will do it. In the first leg the English team didn’t show enough resolve and went dormant after Oscar’s hit. The Swiss took the chance and came out on top with the three points. It was probably for the better and all the alarm bells went off. After that the Blues rallied up and were dominant in the following fixtures. Is no secret this is the title José Mourinho is after, the one that kept getting away. And he sucks at losing.
Basel celebrated their 120th birthday this weekend with a 4-1 victory over FC Thun. They are now isolated leaders of their national league with 30 points gathered in 15 games. They exhibit a good form and are unbeaten for their last eight matches. In the Champions League run, however, things are not working so great. The initial and shocking 1-2 triumph at Stanford Bridge on September 18 boost didn’t last. Next they fell to Shalke (0-1) at home and reached 1-1 stalemates on both games they’ve played Steaua Bucharest. Overall, six points in four matchdays, a 1-2-1 mark is what I call a neither or campaign. One than can still be saved if they pull another rabbit out of the hat, like they did on the reverse leg. Behrang Safari was ruled out with a thigh problem and so was Chilean Marcelo Diaz, who sustained a rib injury during his international duties.
Probable lineup: Yann Sommer – Kay Voser, Fabian Schar, Ivan Ivanov, Taulant Xhaka – Serey Die, Fabian Frei – Mohamed Salah, Matías Delgado, Valentin Stocker – Marco Streller.
José Mourinho’s men will be eager to set the record straight and prove that they mean business in this Champions League season. Since the wake-up call loss in the inaugural fixture Chelsea took control of Group E. Steaua Bucharest (0-4), and Shalke (0-3/3-0) became notches on their belt. In the group stage the Blues scored 11 goals and conceded just 2, none after the Basel defeat. Nobody in Chelsea’s team will be oblivious that one point will lend them a spot in the last 16. But if they fail and Shalke does not they can find themselves in a bit of a pick, caught by the German at the top of the table and the Swiss breathing on their neck, just a point behind. They had a comprehensive 0-3 win this Saturday at West Ham United and are now 3rd in the Premier League, with 24 points in 12 matches. More than the positive result the firm performance seems to indicate that Mourinho’s determinations are beginning to set naturally on the team. Cesar Azpilicueta is filling Ashley Cole’s shoes to his manager satisfaction and should maintain the starting left-back position. David Luiz was reported unavailable for a week with a knee injury which means he’ll be out of the Champions fixture and possibly next weekends game against Southampton. Fernando Torres is still in doubt but has travelled to Basel with the team.
Probable lineup: Petr Cech – Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta – Frank Lampard, Obi Mikel, Oscar – Juan Mata, Eto’o, William.
The two sides met last season on the Europa League semi-finals, Chelsea won both legs and a 5-2 aggregate sent them on to win the trophy against Benfica. On a Group E early fixture the Blues were caught off-guard by a competent Basel http://sildenafilcitrateotc.com/ squad. But now is knock-out phase and the smallest mistake can be deadly. This will be a stern test to Mourinhos’s men and a clear indication of how determined they are go after the title.