Champions League Preview: Chelsea Keen to Begin Crucial Week with a Win

Xavier GonzalezContributor ISeptember 12, 2011

COBHAM, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12:  John Terry fools around with team mates Frank Lampard of Chelsea during a Chelsea training session at the Chelsea training centre on September 12, 2011 in Cobham, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Chelsea vs Leverkusen

Chelsea will be keen to start one of their crucial weeks of the season with a win over Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, while they will also have one eye on the match against Manchester United on Sunday. After making a stuttering start to the season, Chelsea finally displayed some kind of consistency against Sunderland. They are the overwhelming favourites to win their first group match of the season, but Villas-Boas will clearly know that Bayer Leverkusen cannot be taken lightly.

The German club finished as the runners-up to Borussia Dortmund last season and they are looking like capable challengers for the same this time around. Aside from the opening day defeat to Mainz 05, Bayer Leverkusen have enjoyed a good run of results. Chelsea will be without Didier Drogba, who was left out of the squad against Sunderland as well. Despite losing Vidal in the summer, Bayer Leverkusen seem to have strengthened sufficiently to ensure that they remain in contention for a Champions League spot at the end of the season. Chelsea have always been excellent in the group stages, and they are once again expected to begin their campaign with a win, despite the good form shown by Bayer Leverkusen.

Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal

Arsenal will be taking on Borussia Dortmund in the second match that will see an English club pitted against a German club. Arsenal can certainly face the German Champions with modest confidence after getting their first win of the season against Swansea on Saturday. Even though it was a win in which luck played a huge part, Arsene Wenger was without a doubt relieved to get the first win under his belt. They will be facing a Borussia Dortmund side that may have won the championship last season, but they go nowhere near the team that is capable of achieving the same feat once again.

Borussia Dortmund started the Bundesliga campaign with a 3-1 win over Hamburg, but they have since fallen off the pace rather spectacularly. Since then, they have won just one match, and are struggling to keep pace with the likes of Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen at the top of the table. However, they do have the opportunity to take advantage of the home match against Arsenal, as Arsenal are really struggling on the injury front. Thomas Vermaelen has been ruled out for the match, along with a number of other key players.

Barcelona vs Milan

There will be no doubt that AC Milan will be kicking themselves after failing to get into the first spot, which would have ensured that they avoided a top opposition this time around. AC Milan have been facing the likes of Real Madrid and other top clubs in the group stages itself, while it is the turn of Barcelona to once again diminish the hopes of AC Milan qualifying as the group leaders. AC Milan have been involved in only one competitive fixture so far, which will undoubtedly be a great disadvantage when they take on Barcelona.

However, the way in which they came back from two goals down to draw with Lazio in the Italian Serie A would once again remind them of the talent that they possess, although facing Barcelona is a totally different matter. Barcelona's woes against Real Sociedad continued, as they could only draw with the Spanish team on Saturday. However, it is unlikely to dent their confidence, which will be on a high after winning two trophies already. Even though Carlos Puyol is set to make his return to the team, Gerard Pique looks set to miss this match as well. Robinho looks to be the major casualty for AC Milan.