Chelsea vs. Valencia Champions League: Preview, Team News and Predicted Lineups
Failure to qualify for the UEFA Champions League will certainly mean the end of André Villas-Boas at Chelsea.
Qualification for Valencia will continue to enhance Unai Emery's reputation, who over the last few seasons, has been forced to sell David Villa, David Silva, Juan Mata, Joaquín and Raúl Albiol.
Emery's men will travel to Stamford Bridge in a "winner takes all" matchup.
This is a must-read article if you want to be updated with the situation of the group, a preview of the game, team news for both Chelsea and Valencia and their predicted starting lineups.
Situation: If Bayer Leverkusen beat Genk
- Chelsea can qualify via two methods.
1) Beating Valencia. 2) Drawing 0-0.
Why 0-0? Well a draw would see both Chelsea and Valencia level on nine points. UEFA Champions League regulations 7.06 dictates four relevant tie breakers to this situation.
1) Higher number of points obtained in the group matches played among the teams in question.
Still wouldn't break the tie because it would be two points for both teams (1-1 and 0-0 in both fixtures).
2) Superior goal difference from the group matches played among the teams in question.
+1 goal difference for both teams. Again, still wouldn't break the tie.
3) Higher number of goals scored in the group matches played among the teams in question.
Won't break the tie because both teams scored one goal.
4) Higher number of goals scored away from home in the group matches played among the teams in question.
This breaks the tie because a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge means Chelsea qualify through Frank Lampard's away goal in the 1-1 draw at the Estadio Mestalla.
Situation: If Bayer Leverkusen beat Genk
- Valencia can qualify via two methods.
1) Beating Chelsea. 2) A scoring draw.
Why a scoring draw? Let's use a 2-2 draw as an example.
Drawing 2-2 cancels out Frank Lampard's away goal in the 1-1 draw at the Estadio Mestalla. Therefore cancelling out the fourth tiebreaker point.
UEFA has a fifth tie breaker point which determintes the qualifying team on the best goal difference from all group matches played.
This would favour Valencia as a 2-2 draw consolidates the +2 goal difference over Chelsea.
The Situation If Genk Win
At least Chelsea didn't score seven...
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Situation: If Genk beat Bayer Leverkusen
Just to cover our bases, let's say if Genk do win, and Chelsea draw with Valencia.
Leverkusen, Chelsea and Valencia would be level on nine points.
Here are the situations you need to know.
Leverkusen would not qualify because they have inferior head to head records against Chelsea and Valencia.
- Chelsea 2-0 Leverkusen, Leverkusen 2-1 Chelsea. Chelsea's +1 goal difference breaks the tie.
- Leverkusen 2-1 Valencia, Valencia 3-1 Leverkusen. Valencia's +1 goal difference breaks the tie.
A 0-0 draw would see Chelsea win the group. A scoring draw would see Valencia win the group.
Seemingly everything André Villas-Boas does backfires.
Leaving Romelu Lukaku out of the UEFA Champions League squad. What happens this week? Nicolas Anelka hands in a transfer request.
The matchday before, he didn't bother including a back up left-back in the squad (Ryan Bertrand would have been the logical option) and Ashley Cole goes down with injury.
If Chris Foy was refereeing the game against Newcastle then Chelsea would have lost.
To me, it seems like a divided group under Villas-Boas, and you cannot deny this with the transfer requests of Alex and Anelka.
This is Villas-Boas' ultimate test—one that I hope he will pass.
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Unai Emery has once again guided this Valencia side to respectability even though they again lost their main star during the transfer window—Juan Mata.
Los Che are currently third in La Liga and have won four of their last five games whereas Chelsea have lost three of their last five games.
Emery is a tactically more astute than André Villas-Boas and with the Portuguese under immense pressure, who knows more odd tactics he may conjure up.
Chelsea Team News
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- Michael Essien ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and had knee surgery. Likely to return in January.
- I felt empty when I watched Josh McEachran go down with a ankle injury against Liverpool. It was the same feeling when Scott Sinclair suffered a fractured metatarsal against Manchester United.
- McEachran's injury is short-term (thankfully). He probably wasn't even going to feature against Valencia.
- José Bosingwa has missed training due to an adductor strain and there's no point taking a risk with him.
- In October, I said this about Alex: "Still dreaming about his move to Juventus." I was right as he handed in a transfer request.
- Considering Nicolas Anelka's history of sulking, he's dragged out his career at Chelsea longer than I expected. Maybe he likes London.
- There is no way Alex and Anelka will be on the bench let alone playing against Valencia.
- If you're a fan of Romelu Lukaku and Ryan Bertrand, don't expect them to be on the bench let alone playing some minutes, because neither were included in the UEFA Champions League squad.
Valencia Team News
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- I watched Éver Banega go down with a knee injury and I knew he'd be out for at least the medium-term possibly long-term.
- Though, from a more realistic point of view, it's good for Chelsea because this guy is one of the best passers in the world. He's likely to return in January.
- Víctor Ruiz, the first choice centre-back, hasn't played since suffering a right adductor strain in the 7-0 win against Genk. If he isn't 100 percent fit, Valencia do not need to take a risk because Ángel Dealbert has looked alright.
- Ricardo Costa, who was one of the first names on Valencia's team sheets last season, hasn't played since October and isn't likely to be rushed back into the team having pulled him hamstring in November.
- Sergio Canales, earmarked for big things at Racing Santander, but frozen out by José Mourinho at Real Madrid, unfortunately tore his knee ligament in October. He's likely to return in April.
- Hedwiges Maduro, a utility player, will continue to rehabilitate and recover from ankle surgery. He's likely to return in April.
Predicted Chelsea Starting XI
"And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain...I did it my way."
If you were wondering, those are the lyrics from Frank Sinatra's "My Way".
If this is to be André Villas-Boas' final game then I do not see Frank Lampard in the starting XI because he is one of the dissenters.
His disgust at being substituted combined with a divided squad and the transfer requests of Alex and Nicolas Anelka, means Villas-Boas will go with a starting XI that believes in him.
There's no way David Luiz should start because he would have cost Chelsea the game if not for referee Mike Dean bottling it.
However, with José Bosingwa's missing training due to an adductor strain, it's more than likely that he will not play at right-back and Branislav Ivanović will not move to centre-back.
Predicted Valencia Starting XI
Considering the likes of Roberto Soldado, Jonas and Sofiane Feghouli did not start against Espanyol, I'm presuming all three were rested.
I'm certain that Soldado and Jonas will start.
Not so sure about Feghouli because he has been pretty mediocre.
It's a toss up between him and Pablo, who himself hasn't set the world on fire, but he did play well in a cameo against Real Madrid.
I know David Albelda is no longer a permanent starter, but I'd have to assume, the captain would start in Valencia's most important game of the season.
So it's Unai Emery's 4-2-3-1 up against André Villas-Boas' 4-3-3 (really a 4-1-2-3).
Here's Villas-Boas talking tactics:
"Our No6 [at Porto, Fernando] sometimes became a more attacking midfielder and we tried to do that here, but we decided it doesn't work so that's one of the things I have adapted."
Fernando made Villas-Boas' midfield three complete because he was making tackles and charging up forward.
He complimented Fernando Belluschi and João Moutinho excellently.
So essentially Villas-Boas is saying his 4-3-3 doesn't work at Chelsea so it becomes a 4-1-2-3.
It's a slight back hand at John Obi Mikel, who was never a holding midfielder let alone a box-to-box midfielder—he was an attacking midfielder.
With regards to David Luiz starting. Godspeed Luiz. Godspeed.
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What starting XI should Chelsea use?
What do you think the result will be?
If Chelsea do not qualify, should André Villas-Boas be fired?
If so, who do you want to replace him?
Please read grading Grading Andre Villas-Boas' Players.