UEFA Champions League : Chelsea, Leverkusen and Five Things We Expect
The draws have been made and the fixtures are ready.
The UEFA Champions League 2011-12 will start today with several big games to watch out for. Premier League heavyweight Chelsea take on a relatively young but aspiring Leverkusen side at home in their opening fixture.
Last season's Bundesliga runners-up boast of industrious and talented young stars who could very well pose a big threat to their more experienced and successful rivals. But Chelsea have history on their side, as well as the experience and quality which is starting to show with each passing day.
The match will be a mouth-watering clash of tactics. Here we will look into what we could expect.
Emotional Return of a Blues' Legend
The highly-rated German star, who spent four years at Stamford Bridge, will return to his former club amid much nostalgia.
Chelsea are to felicitate their former star at the start of the match to honour his contribution to the Blues' success. The event is surely going to see lots of emotions as Ballack was a favourite among Chelsea fans.
Torres Warming the Bench
Chelsea again had to pay dearly for their owner Roman Abramovich's whimsical buy.
When Chelsea bought Fernando Torres from Liverpool for a record €50 million, it was more of Abramovich's whims taking reality rather than needs. But El Nino's arrival was nonetheless invited with much joy and cheer. The prospect of Drogba and Torres playing up front was a dream partnership for many.
But since then Torres has managed a single goal for the Blues, leading to the Blues' crisis of forwards in the new season. Last week, manager Andre Villas-Boas had stated that he would not twitch to drop poorly performing players. His first casualty was the misfiring Torres, who warmed the bench as promising youngster Daniel Sturridge started with Nicolas Anelka upfront.
Sturridge's impressive performance and brilliant goal against Sunderland has now dealt Torres' further blow, as Villas-Boas is now reportedly planning on dropping Torres for the next two fixtures. If Villas-Boas has his way, we might see the Spaniard sitting on the bench on Tuesday night when Chelsea take on Leverkusen.
A Tough Competition Between Premier League and Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen will arrive with a relatively young team without much European experience. Chelsea on the other hand are Champions League regulars.
But the Blues are expected to face tough competition from Robin Dutt's young talented squad. Boasting of the likes of Andre Schurrie, Lars Bender and others along with the experienced Ballack, the German side are not ones to be shoved away. The match will also be a fight between EPL and Bundesliga styles of football. The sleek, attacking style of Leverkusen against the physical, build-up play of Chelsea will be a treat to watch.
Though the English giants are expected to win the match, but it could be tight if Leverkusen get their tactics right.
Juan Mata Proving Every Penny's Worth in Gold
Chelsea's new signing has been a impressive since his debut two weeks back. The highly-rated Spaniard has been a live wire in the Blues' midfield.
His superb pace combined with dribbling skills and creative bent has seen him become a fan favourite within a few weeks. When Chelsea take on the German side, all eyes will be on the Spanish star to see whether he can help the Blues register a win and there is the least chance that they will fail.
Chelsea to Maintain Their Undefeated Streak of Eight Years
When German side Bayer Leverkusen arrive at Stamford Bridge for their Champions League opening fixture against English giants Chelsea, they will have their hands full.
Not only are Chelsea one of the strongest and dangerous clubs in the world but they also are rock-solid at home. The Blues have made Stamford Bridge a fortress of sorts. Chelsea have remained unbeaten at home in the Champions' League for eight years now. Moreover, the club has never lost to German clubs at the Bridge.
Given Chelsea's experience and quality, it is expected that the Blues' will register a win again and maintain their 100 percent unbeaten home record. But the best part of football is it's unpredictable nature, hence there might also be an upset.