Champions League: Why Chelsea Cannot Beat Napoli

Ryan NolanCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2012

Champions League: Why Chelsea Cannot Beat Napoli

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    What's happened to this Chelsea team? Last year, they finished second in the league. Now, they are 17 points back from the leaders Manchester City.  

    The squad has been a mess, and Andre Villas-Boas' cleaning out of the older players has made a clear and detrimental impact. What hope does this Chelsea side have against one of Italy's most potent attacks?

Weak Chelsea Attack...

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    While it might not be Fernando Torres' fault that he's not scoring, he is still not scoring. As the principle striker at Chelsea, if he does not find the back of the net, he puts significantly more pressure on his entire team. Over 1,200 minutes of playing time ago, Torres scored his last goal. There's no indication that he'll be able to improve against Napoli.

    Beyond that, Chelsea's other scoring threats are lacking. Daniel Sturridge, Chelsea's top threat, has scored once in his last eight starts. Ramires, who returned against Birmingham for the FA Cup, is not a great goal scorer, and although he played well against Birmingham, there is no telling if he is at 100 percent.  

    Juan Mata will, as usual, be forced to take the weight of Chelsea's offense, both as scorer and creator. He's generally played well lately, but cannot carry this Chelsea team for the entire season.

    Who does that leave? On the bench, Didier Drogba, Florent Maulouda and others who are inconsistent and have gotten very limited playing time. There is simply no one to count on for Chelsea's offense.

...and Strong Napoli Defense

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    Napoli's defense will smother Chelsea. The back line, consisting of Salvatore Aronica, Paolo Cannavaro and Huge Campagnaro is quality. The three players work well together and, along with keeper Morgan De Sanctis, have allowed just 24 goals this season, tied for fourth best in Serie A. This back three is good in the air and should be able to make Torres a non-factor, placing more burden on Juan Mata.

Strong Napoli Attack...

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    Napoli's front three, the so-called "Triumvirate," is arguably one of the best attacking forces in all of Europe.  

    Marek Hamsik is an outstanding playmaker, completing over 83 percent of his passes. His play has drawn attention from clubs like Chelsea, Real Madrid and PSG.

    Ezequiel Lavezzi is simply fantastic when he's on the ball. His dribbling ability is world class and he is able to draw fouls, especially against weaker defenses.

    Finally, there's Edinson Cavani. The fearsome target man has netted 15 goals in 22 league games this season, second only to Antonio Di Natale. His play has made him emerge as one of the best strikers in in the world.

....and Weak Chelsea Defense

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    Chelsea's defense has been miserable this season, a shadow of what it once was. Someone always seems to play poorly, whether it be the incredibly frustrating Jose Bosingwa or the underperforming David Luiz. John Terry has seen his fair share of off nights as well, and winter-signing Gary Cahill has not had the impact Chelsea fans hoped for.  

    This Chelsea defense has allowed six goals in their last three matches, including three in a heartbreaking match against Manchester United. When the Napoli games rolls around, it will have been a month since Chelsea's last clean-sheet, and that was in a scoreless draw against Norwich City.

    Chelsea's defensive struggles have been one of the biggest talking points around the league this year, and there has been no signs that it will improve in time to face Napoli's attack.

Poor Tactics

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    Andre Villas-Boas' tactics might be those of winning clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid, but they do not seem to be effective in London.

    Looking at Chelsea's defense, the individual players look strong and capable against even the most formidable attacks. And yet, with AVB's insistence on the high line, everything falls apart.

    This Napoli attack will be one of many to tear Chelsea's defense to shreds, and AVB is the one to blame.