Chelsea vs. Nordsjaelland: Preview and Projected Lineups

Thomas AtzenhofferCorrespondent IIDecember 4, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Rafael Benitez of Chelsea speaks during a press conference after a training session at Cobham training ground on December 4, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Chelsea play host to Danish club FC Nordsjaelland on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge in what is potentially the defending UEFA Champions League title holders' last match in the Champions League this campaign.

A horrid run of form and results over the past month-and-a-half have seen the club sack Roberto Di Matteo, who led the club to glory in both the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League last season. The appointment of Rafael Benitez as the interim manager has done little to ease the nerves of the Chelsea fans, who were and still are vocally backing the former manager.

However, Roman Abramovich appointed Benitez because few managers got the best of Chelsea the way the Spaniard did during his time at Liverpool, and his ability to win important matches in European competitions is well-known.

The Blues could have an easy route to victory as Nordsjaelland has only earned a single draw of the European campaign and could likely play some more fringe players knowing that their domestic competition has to take precedence at this point with no future in European competition left for them to cling to.

The Danish club could also decide to go for it in hopes of making a run to try and further the Blues' pain after a run of two draws and a defeat in their domestic competition, the English Premier League. Whichever the case may be, it is certain that the pressure is continuing to mount on Benitez and his squad as they hope not to drop points in the fourth consecutive match across all competitions.

Fernando Torres will once again be the center of the attention as Benitez was thought to be the man that could bring the best out of his former charge, but so far nothing to that tune has materialized. One bright spot against West Ham over the weekend saw Torres combine with Juan Mata to create the first goal of the match.

Once the second half started, it was as if someone turned off the switch that was Torres as he spent more time in his club's defensive box than attacking that of his opposition. Benitez may have thought he faced must-win situations so far at Chelsea, but there is nothing bigger at the moment for the club than making the knockout stages of the Champions League—which requires a win and Shakhtar defeating Juventus.

Projected Chelsea Starting XI: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole; Mikel, Romeu; Moses, Mata, Hazard; Torres.

Projected Nordsjaelland Starting XI: Hansen; Parkhurst, Okore, Runje, Mtiliga; Christensen, Adu; Lorentzen, Beckmann, John; Nordstrand.