Napoli vs. Chelsea: 5 Bold Predictions for the Blues' Champions League Tie

Saura BhattacharjeeAnalyst IFebruary 19, 2012

Napoli vs. Chelsea: 5 Bold Predictions for the Blues' Champions League Tie

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    Chelsea face Italian side Napoli, who have been in impressive form at this season's edition of the Champions League.

    Boasting of the likes of Cavani, Lavezzi and Vargas supplemented by Hamsik & Co., they are a club not to be overlooked. They have been pretty solid during the group stages and are no more the lightweights to be thrown aside as in earlier seasons. Moreover, they are a highly feared team at home as well.

    So when Villas-Boas's out-of-shape squad takes the visit to Italy next week, it is not going to be an easy fixture for the dismal Blues. The team is reportedly heading for a crisis with news of player mutiny also being heard.

    AVB has seemingly looked out of place at Stamford Bridge since his arrival and has failed to take control of the team or even get his tactics correct.

    With news of Hiddink being identified as the next man to succeed Villas-Boas, nothing could get worse than Chelsea losing at Napoli and crashing out of the Champions League.

    With the club's chances of a fourth-place finish hanging precariously, it could spell the end of Villas-Boas' short misadventure.

    In the following slides, we make six bold predictions regarding the Blues fixture against Italian club Napoli next week.

Torres Will Score a Brace at Italy

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    It has been now more than 1,200 minutes since our much-celebrated 50 million misadventure has scored a goal, and it looks unlikely of happening anytime soon.

    Fernando Torres, on his arrival was expected to create the most lethal attacking partnership alongside Didier Drogba and help Chelsea to European as well as domestic glory.

    But that big dream has crashed like a house of cards, as Torres has seen himself perform at his worst possible form this season so far.

    He has looked despairing in front of the goal, missing out on sure-shot chances. His magical touch from his early Liverpool days seems to have erased off.

    Though the optimistic still feel he has been improving, but it is there for everyone to see that Torres has lost his world-class touch and is no more than an expensive burden to carry around in the age of Financial Fair Play.

    It was expected against Norwich, as was against Swansea, Manchester United and then Everton but Torres failed to score a goal in any of the game.

    Against Birmingham this weekend, Torres is likely to be fielded again by the under-fire manager Villas-Boas and it seems unlikely he will score.

    So it only has to be an European night for our expensive striker to score goals. Last, he scored against Genk in the Champions' League in October 2011.

    With Chelsea due to face Italian club Napoli in their Champions' League knock-out stage face-off next week, that occasion seems perfect for Torres' to finally break his goal-scoring jinx.

    What better way to come out of his slumber than scoring a brace to help Chelsea secure their next round passage safely?

    The previous situations all build up to Torres scoring a brace against Napoli to help Chelsea overcome their Italian adventure easily.

Villas-Boas Will Revert His Failed Tactics

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    Chelsea's new manager this season has been facing a horrid time in charge. He has not only failed to oversee a smooth transition from an aging squad to a younger team but has got all his tactics wrong.

    In most of Chelsea's games their manager is more to be blamed for his confusing tactics rather than the players. He has failed to control the dressing room as some players allegedly criticised his tactics last Sunday.

    The problem that seems to be bothering our young manager is not having quality to manage at the highest levels but of his arrogant nature. He has seemed to be of a very rigid mindset, given his lack of adaptability.

    After having failed to make any ground with his failing tactics, Villas-Boas has not bothered to change his tactics in a way to utilise the players at his disposal completely. The result has been some disastrous losses for the Blues, which has cast serious doubts about his managerial ability and tactical awareness.

    The difference between a good manager and a great manager is to be able to properly utilise the available resources and create a trophy winning squad. This is evidently the difference between Mourinho, Sir Alex and Villas-Boas.

    There have been talks of AVB not getting much time to change the squad as per his liking, but everyone fails to forget that if he was as good as he was in Porto, he could have easily used these players to achieve a better position this season.

    After the shocking loss against Everton, which cast doubts on the team's motivation, Villas-Boas took all the blame. He has since been in extreme pressure to deliver this season, as failure to deliver any trophy and qualification for next season's Champions' League will surely lead to his sack.

    So, when Chelsea travel to Napoli for their European night Villas-Boas is likely to change his stubborn stance and hopefully plan a better and different tactic to overcome Cavani & Co.

Sturridge Will Outperform

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    The English youngster has been the only thing going right for Chelsea this season.

    In a season where Chelsea's world-record costly manager has seen his poor decisions leave the Blues' lagging at fifth place and their 50 million striker develop from world-class to garbage, Sturridge has given every Blues' fan something to cheer about.

    The fiery youngster is the Blues' second highest goal-scorer in all competitions just behind Frank Lampard and has been in blistering form this season. Though he has been visibly upset at being played out of position by Villas-Boas, he has nonetheless thrived there as well.

    The youngster's lightning pace, combined with his dribbling abilities, allows him to scupper past opposition defenders quite easily.

    Though his lack of passing and selfish nature of play has drawn severe criticism, it cannot be denied that he has been Chelsea's best player this season, second only to Juan Mata.

    When Chelsea face Napoli in the first leg of their European challenge, fans will be hoping for the youngster to keep up his impressive form and help Chelsea secure the all-important win.

    Sturridge seems a player who likes the spotlight, and what better way to burst onto the scene than to deliver a eye-catching performance helping his team overcome their tough opponents.

    Napoli is likely to be troubled by the talented Chelsea youngster and Sturridge looks set to outperform his expectations and play a vital role in securing a win for Chelsea.

Chelsea Fans Will Sing Supporting Villas-Boas

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    Well the last match at Everton saw Chelsea fans booing their own manager as well as insulting him with chants of "You don't know what you're doing." I

    f that was not bad enough for a manager, then on his admission, Villas-Boas accepted that all of his players were not backing him, which suggests a rift in the squad.

    If the only thing Chelsea's new manager achieved in his first year is to create a squad disharmony, then it will only be a matter of weeks before we see Villas-Boas on the same platform as Steve Kean. In the Abramovich era, any manager who have failed to get the backing of his players has been sacked.

    Though Villas-Boas has claimed that he has the full support of the owner, it cannot be ruled out that losing favour among the fans as well the squad is not good for a manager's career.

    While the jeering given to Villas-Boas was a one-off incident, there is no guarantee that such a thing would not happen again. When the Blues' take on Birmingham in their FA Cup fixture, any wrong or failed tactics is going to land Villas-Boas under further pressure.

    But a win against Birmingham followed by an away win against Napoli three days later might see those jeers turn to cheers.

    Though Napoli are a tough opponent undoubtedly, Chelsea are expected to overcome them. Moreover, Villas-Boas is likely to make some changes both tactically and mentally after seeing his poor decisions cost Chelsea valuable points in the domestic title race.

    If his changed plans work, then we might see the Chelsea fans appreciating their manager's efforts and chanting their support for him.

The Naples Attack Shall Have a Tough Time

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    After yesterday's pathetic display against Birmingham, the chances of Chelsea managing a draw against Napoli too seems a distant draw.

    The Italian club boasting of the likes of Cavani, Vargas and others are expected to torment the Blues' fragile defense, which has not been very convincing. The Chelsea defense has failed to resemble the disciplined defense of Mourinho era, and this season it has been all the more evident.

    With Terry and Ashley Cole out of the squad through injury, Chelsea's defense has seemed to be all the weaker. The defense had a tough time against Everton and against Birmingham, too.

    It is highly expected that the Azzurri shall put several past the fragile Blues at home to leave their qualification for the next round in no chance.

    But with John Terry and Ashley Cole likely to return to the fold, Villas-Boas can breathe a sigh of relief. The addition of the two veterans shall add experience to the defense.

    Luiz has been impressive this season but still has a lot to learn, while Cahill needs some more time to blend in perfectly with the squad.

    So with Captain Fantastic back in the squad it is expected that Villas-Boas' men shall deliver a disciplined defensive display and make life harder for the Napoli strikers.

    There is a high chance of Napoli failing to break through the Chelsea defense following some top-notch displays from our defenders.