UEFA Champions League 2011-12 : 5 Things Chelsea Need to Win the Tournament
Given the obstacles the club has faced over the years, the UEFA Champions League has become a sort of dream for every Chelsea fan.
Be it poor refereeing decisions or bad luck, Chelsea have never quite been able to go all the way, even when they deserved to be crowned champions. Chelsea have become a top-rung European club in the Abramovich era, but the only thing missing from their glittering trophy cabinet is the European champions crown.
The Special One failed and four other managers came and tried, but still the European crown eludes Chelsea. Andre Villas-Boas has arrived at Chelsea and his biggest objective will be to land Chelsea a European winners medal.
In the following slides we take a look as to what Chelsea will need this season to crown themselves European champions.
Torres Regains His Form
Chelsea's Abramovich era has seen similar trends in the past, when the owner vetoed the club to buy a player of his choice without thinking of the consequences.
Chelsea's January signing of the out of class Fernando Torres has been the same. Roman's insistence led to the high-valued signing of the star. Torres has failed as of yet to prove his worth on the field. Though his performances have looked promising in the new season, he is yet to attain his full potential.
With new Chelsea boss Andre Villas Boas looking to form a team to exploit Torres' full potential, it will be important for Torres to regain his scoring boots as early as possible. If AVB is to deliver Chelsea their first European glory, he has to make his 50-million striker shine through as early as possible.
With the Blues' other experienced strikers like Drogba and Anelka getting older with each passing day, and youngsters Sturridge and Lukaku still short of experience, the onus will be on El Nino to score his way into European glory for the Blues.
AVB Finds the Right Mix for the Team
Chelsea have kept their core team almost intact with a few additions and pruning. The onus will be on Chelsea's young manager to forge a winning combination of experience and youth.
His most important job will be to forge out a way to make the best of a Drogba-Torres combination, something his predecessor, Carlo Ancelotti, failed to do. Moreover, it will be interesting to see how the ambitious manager rotates his team without losing out on performance.
Chelsea, who was quite silent in the transfer market compared to their other rivals, has already signed in three promising youngsters. In Lukaku they have the successor to the fiery Didier Drogba. Barcelona youngster Romeu is touted as a potential star of the future. New signing Juan Mata is a proven talent who was signed to strengthen Chelsea's midfield and add creativity.
The biggest task for Villas-Boas will be to handle the squad in keeping up with both European and domestic pressure. Chelsea's success will only be possible if their new manager can forge out a method to easily cope with the demands of the new season.
The Back 4 Performs Consistently
Since the Abramovich era, Chelsea have boasted of a solid defense. The Blues have never had trouble blocking opponents in their half of the field.
But with John Terry, Ferreira, Bosingwa and Ashley Cole all getting older by the day, Chelsea has a serious issue to handle in their defense. Though new signing David Luiz and Chelsea youngsters Ryan Bertrand and Van Aanholt are promising, they still lack enough experience to take on the roles of their predecessors.
In the new season, Chelsea's defense has not looked sharp, except for Bosingwa who has been a revelation after returning from his injury. The likes of Alex, Terry and even Ashley Cole have been mediocre at best. Chelsea also need their replacement goalies, Ross Turnbull and Hilario, to perform more consistently in the absence of Petr Cech.
If Chelsea are to win their debut European crown, the Blues will have to look forward to a solid defensive display. With Chelsea looking to sign Porto defender Perreira, it seems Villas-Boas is headed in the right direction.
Mata Shines in His Debut Season for the Blues
In the new season so far, Chelsea have looked to be lacking creativity in their midfield; hence, their lack of goals.
With their first-team midfielders mostly above 30, the Blues are lacking speed and creativity, resulting in lesser goal-scoring opportunities. Lampard does not look like the same player he became famous for, while performances from Malouda, Ramires and others have not been too good in the new season.
However, the arrival of Valencia's talented midfielder, Juan Mata, is hopefully going to add the much-needed creativity in the midfield and allow Villas-Boas to exploit Torres' full potential. The Spaniard had a terrific last season, which saw him attract interests from top clubs. Chelsea were lucky to have landed a player of his potential. Given Mata's vision and his sense of understanding the game, it is going to be a good bargain for Chelsea in the long run.
Mata's exploitation in the midfield will be an important factor if Chelsea are to win their debut European glory. His incisive passes and creative moves will help open up lots of opportunities up front for the Chelsea attackers to exploit. Chelsea fans will pray that Mata lives up to his huge potential.
An Impartial Referee During the Knockout Stages
Over the years, Chelsea have had poor luck in the European competition. Most of the bad luck is owed to the poor UEFA-nominated referees whose poor decisions have cost Chelsea European glory—be it Ovrebo's idiotic refereeing in the semis against Barca that cost Chelsea the trophy or poor refereeing against Inter that again saw Chelsea's European dream cut short.
Apart from Terry's slip during the final in Moscow, most of the time in the past five years Chelsea have been ousted from the competition by refereeing errs rather than weak performance. The decisions seem to always go against Chelsea.
So, Chelsea will be hoping for a high quality and impartial referee, unlike Ovrebo or the others, in the critical knockout stages if they are to be crowned as European champions.