FC Nordsjælland V Chelsea: UCL Preview, Team News, Projected Lineups
Chelsea's defence of the Champions League continues on Tuesday when the Blues travel to Denmark to visit Nordsjælland, who are competing for the first time in this competition.
Roberto Di Matteo's side threw away a two-nil lead to Juventus on match day one, with the Italian champions almost leaving Stamford Bridge with all three points.
Group E could prove problematic for the champions when you consider an ever-improving Shakhtar Donetsk's ambitions to reach the knock-out phase of the competition.
Nordsjælland will not be expected to pick up a solitary point by the majority, which means that anything short of six points from both matches against the Danish champions will put the Blues' progression in jeopardy.
It is therefore imperative that Chelsea take the maximum points from this away trip, where the Wild Tigers will be desperate to impress in their home debut in the group stage.
Check out this in-depth preview of the big match and be sure to join the debate in the comments section below.
Chelsea's Key to Victory: Movement in the Final Third
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Chelsea were terrific in Saturday's victory over Arsenal for several reasons, but the way that the Blues moved the ball in the final third will be a major reason for their potential success—or failure—this season.
Now that Oscar has been integrated into a dream support cast for Fernando Torres, Roberto Di Matteo knows that his side will be able to create ample opportunities to win football matches. With a plethora of options available to the Blues, the opposition will not be able to stifle Chelsea by concentrating their efforts on one particular talisman, which was the case with Juan Mata last season.
Ramires' trial as one of the two defensive midfielders has offered plenty of runs from deep to make Chelsea lethal in transition. The movement of Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar will open up spaces for the Blues to exploit, and eventually provide Torres with the ammunition to rediscover his best form.
Nordsjælland's Key to Victory: Man Marking
Jores Okore is widely considered to be one of the most talented defenders in European football and the Danish centre-back will have to be at his best if Nordsjælland are to take something from the match.
The Ivorian-born Okore should man-mark Fernando Torres to prevent the Spaniard from continuing his fine form, with a similar approach to Chelsea's other talented attacking players.
I feel that man-marking is the best solution to nullifying the Blues' dangerous front line, due to the fluidity and movement that they have displayed since the start of the season.
Joshua John's pace and directness from wide areas will be able to cause the Blues problems, so it is therefore imperative that Mikkel Beckmann is able to hold the ball up and release the talented John into the spaces behind Chelsea's rearguard.
John, a Netherlands under-21 international, has excelled with the Wild Tigers since joining on loan from Twente, contributing seven goals in as many appearances. If anybody is able to inspire the Danish side then it has to be John.
Predicted Lineups and Team News
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Formation (4-2-3-1): Cech, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Lampard, Mikel; Ramires, Oscar, Hazard; Torres
Roberto Di Matteo will probably rotate the side after Saturday's tough match at Arsenal, although the margin for error is not great in this match with Juventus and Shakhtar both capable of progressing from group E.
John Terry could be handed a rest, allowing Gary Cahill to start again, while Branislav Ivanovic has played 90 minutes in all but one of Chelsea's matches so far this season. Deputising for the Serbian will be Cesar Azpilicueta, with the Spaniard able to provide a more attacking threat from deep due to his excellent dribbling skills.
Juan Mata's game time is being carefully managed after a year without a significant rest due to involvement in Euro 2012 and the Olympics, so Ramires will be pushed forward into a wide right berth which will allow Frank Lampard to come back into the starting lineup.
Formation (4-2-3-1): Hansen; Parkhurst, Okore, Runje, Mtiliga; Stokholm, Adu; Lorentzen, Christensen, John; Beckmann
Nordsjælland will aim to get Joshua John involved as much as possible, which will mean that there will be extra pressure on Nicolai Stockholm to be productive with the ball.
The 36-year-old captain is an asset at both ends of the pitch and can be the Wild Tigers' inspiration on the biggest night in the club's history.