For Chelsea, Wednesday's match against Steaua Bucharest comes down to winning Group E or finishing as the runner-up and potentially facing a more difficult match, as the Blues have already qualified for the Round of 16.
With a win, Chelsea is guaranteed to win the group. With a draw, they'll win the group if Schalke defeats FC Basel or if the teams draw, but will finish as a runner-up if Basel wins. And if they lose, they're guaranteed to finish as a runner-up.
Of course, at Stamford Bridge and facing an opponent they've already defeated in this competition, 4-0, the Blues will be heavy favorites. Let's break down this Champions League clash.
When: Wednesday, December 11 at 2:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. GMT)
Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England
Watch: Fox Soccer Plus; Fox Soccer 2Go; Sky Sports 3 (U.K.); Sky Go (U.K.)
The master motivator and mind-game maestro is at it again.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho doesn't believe his team is one of the contenders for a Champions League title this season—or at least he is saying so publicly to light a fire under his team—as he told reporters in a press conference before Wednesday's game.
Here are his comments, via Dominic Fifield of The Guardian:
I think our chances, this season, which is my first season, are not comparable with the chances other clubs have. I think other clubs have completely different stability, squads and [stage of] evolution to be considered the favorites to win the competition. We have reached the last 16. If we reach the quarter-final, which is the next step, then every team in the quarter-final has a chance to win it. In my analysis, I think we are not considered one of the favorites to win the competition.
In my opinion, my favorites are Bayern: the European champions and a top club, with the same players and a new manager, but unbelievable stability. They won it last year, were in the final the year before, in a final in 2010 and have fantastic stability at this level. Then Barcelona and Real Madrid. And these three teams are, clearly in terms of potential and responsibilities, in front.
To be fair, his analysis is probably spot on. Few would argue with the notion that Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid deserve to be considered favorites to win this competition.
But if you think it's a coincidence that these comments would come a few days after Chelsea lost 3-2 to Stoke City in the Premier League—and before that allowed three goals to lowly Sunderland, albeit in a win—well, you should probably look up, because somebody wrote "gullible" on the ceiling.
Chelsea's issues this year were originally thought to be at forward, where Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba have underwhelmed—why they loaned Romelu Lukaku to Everton remains a mystery—but the defense has been in shambles in recent games.
This might be a good time for the Blues to figure things out on that end. With a key Premier League fixture against Arsenal looming on December 23, the Blues have some kinks to iron out for sure.
Which team wins?
At home, against a team they already demolished in a road fixture, Chelsea should win this game. It will be interesting to see if Mourinho places emphasis on winning the group or if he cycles in a few non-regulars to rest a couple of key contributors.
Given the depth this squad possesses and Chelsea's recent play, the former seems like the safer bet.
Chelsea wins, 3-0.