Will Stamford Bridge Be Falling Down?: Chelsea VS. Cluj

Bela TrimmelCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2008

With the final set of group play fixtures on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, it is crunch time for Chelsea.

The Blues need nothing short of a win in their match at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, or they will likely fall to a UEFA cup spot.

The pressure being placed on the players and their manager, while not being publicly expressed, has likely been building since the Blues' last Champions League fixture, which ended in a draw against Bordeaux.

The Blues manager has backed off his initial announcement after the draw that he would return to Brazil if the team failed to qualify for the knockout stages. However, he may not have a choice if Chelsea's owner, Roman Abramovich, has anything to do with it.

While the Russian oil magnate has not made any official statements to the tune of "win or get out," it is likely that the thought has entered his head.

It was little over a year ago when Chelsea tied with Rosenborg, thus putting the nail in Jose Mourinho's coffin. Since that time, Chelsea have went on to make it to the championship match against Manchester United this past season.

Despite having got that far, the team ended up losing out on the points races with Manchester United. The Red Devils went on to win both the Premiership and the Champions League.

It seems that the whims of Abramovich are too wide to pin down by one manager. Success in Europe should translate to success in England, but that is not always the case.

While it is unlikely that Abramovich will send Scolari job hunting with less than a month until Christmas and the opening of the transfer window, it will be interesting to see if he remains at the club after this year if the team fail to qualify.

Lampard Is Seeing Red

The Chelsea midfielder will be unavailable for Tuesday's match after he received two yellow cards in the match against Bordeaux.

Hopefully this will not effect Nicholas Anelka's night too much. Anelka, who scored the only goal for Chelsea in their draw, was fed the ball by Lampard before being subbed out for Didier Drogba.

Also to be questioned is the role, if any, Drogba will play in the match.

The Ivorian is currently serving a three-match ban in the Premiership for a coin-throwing incident. This, coupled with injuries, have kept him from partnering with Anelka on the pitch.

Scolari seems adamant on placing the two together, but it is unlikely that it will occur in such a critical match. Look for Anelka to come out around the 60-minute mark if he under-performing.

When it comes to the mid third of the field, Chelsea are more than capable of producing scoring chances and assisting Anelka or Drogba in that area.

A fit Joe Cole, coupled with Ballack and Deco, will make for a midfield that will likely orchestrate the bulk of the game for the Blues.

When you have such a well-oiled midfield, it makes the work for the strikers easy and almost puts them out of a job.

Defensively, the squad should be fine. Baring a major slip-up by the back four, Cech should sail to a clean sheet against the Romanian side.

Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Cluj