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Preview: MSK Zilinia v Chelsea - Chelsea the team to beat in Europe this season.

Before I decided to write this match preview of todays game I was having a read of this article written by Martin Samuel in the Daily Mai...

Football - Chelsea v Blackburn Rovers Barclays Premier League - Stamford Bridge - 17/5/09..Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich Photo via Newscom


Before I decided to write this match preview of todays game I was having a read of this article written by Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail and realised then that Chelsea are burdened with a stat that we need to shake off this season.

Did you know that in five of the last six seasons in the Champions League, the side that has beaten Chelsea in the knockout rounds of the competition have gone on to win the tournament that season!?.

I have to say I was aware of how close we have been but what a stat that is and its one that Roman Abramovich wants to shake off of as soon as we can.

Carlo has spoken of his determination to win the competition and you can imagine the hunger for victory for Europe's top prize is as strong as ever from Abramovich. In no uncertain terms the pressure is on Carlo and Chelsea after the nightmare against Jose's Inter last season.

Alot has changed since the two-legged defeat and we have seen players come and go. Some have returned or are due to return from injury and you have to say as we enter the competition, our squad remains strong and we have to be one of the favourites again this season.

Its all well and good being favourties before the competition starts, but we have to make sure we take each game as it comes and make sure we get the job done as early as possible. With four wins on the spin already in the league, on paper we have the chance to start this group stage with four more and qualify easily as winners of the group. Its todays match selection that provides the first real question of Carlo's determination to put this group to bed as early as possible.

Chelsea have named the side as follows for tonight:

The Chelsea line-up is: Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Alex, Yuri Zhirkov, Michael Essien, Yossi Benayoun, John Obi Mikel, Daniel Sturridge, Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka.
Subs (from): Turnbull, Hilario, Ferreira, Ramires, Kalou, Kakuta, Van Aanholt, Bruma.

So we know Lamps is missing through injury, Bosingwa is still working hard to recover from his injury problems, Ashley Cole and Ferreira(bench)are rested and so too is Didier Drogba. Zhirkov, Benayoun and Danny Sturridge come into the side as we look to get our campaign off to a win.

I do have a concern that the three coming in, haven't featured much apart from Benayoun in games and will take some time to get to grips with the pace of the game. There is no doubting their quality and I understand with the Internationals last week that Carlo wants to give players a rest but surely we could do this next Sunday against Blackpool!?. No disrespect to Blackpool but I would have preferred Chelsea to play at full strength tonight instead.

Travelling anywhere in Europe and the Champions League these days is a diffciult tie and you will face no easy games in the competition so I do expect Chelsea to face a stern test tonight. I do not mean any disrespect to Zilina at all but I am more concerned about our side and how we play tonight rather than anything else.

Wembley Stadium Chelsea v Manchester United (3-0) Community Shield 08/08/2010 New signing Yossi Benayoun (Chelsea) is sent flying by Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United) but is denied a penalty Photo Roger Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom


Sturridge is lightening quick and it could be a ball over the top to him on the counter attack that could nick us a goal to take home with us. Benayoun needs to take his chance tonight. He was left on the bench on Saturday with Ancelotti opting for Ramires to play in front of him and Ramires after a shaky start getting used to the pace of the game settled down and played well. Yossi needs to do the same. It's games like today where he has a chance to win the Chelsea fans over. Expect him to be looking to get on the ball as often as possible tonight. Its what he does with it at his feet that matters.

That will also apply to Yuri Zhirkov tonight. Some people still are under the impression that they do not know what his best position is or if he is infact a left back. One thing consistant with Cole is that he will look to get forward whenever he can. They way we have been playing he will have plenty of opportunities tonight so he needs to make the right decisions at the right time and to not leave us exposed if our attack breaks down.

It could be an easy game for us as despite the changes we still look strong with the likes of Cech, JT, Mikel and Essien at the core of the side and Malouda and Anelka up front. The movement we have displayed in the attacking third of the pitch so far this season has been the difference and made a difference in games and I expect the same today. Look out for the movement of the front three, expect Malouda, Anelka and Sturridge to swap and change positions all game. This could be the match winner for us.

We do however need to maintain our shape and remain focused on getting the job done. I do expect us to win by three or four tonight but would bite your hand off right now for a 1-0 win.

As long as we approach the game in the right way. Start the game well and get on the ball and pass the ball around as early as possible it should be comfortable for Chelsea and our fans tonight. If we sit back and look to hit Zilina on the break it could be one of those tense European nights we all hate.

I predict an early Chelsea goal and maybe 2-0 at half time. Let's bloody hope so!. Final score 4-0 Chelsea with Malouda and Anelka scoring two each!

Carefree & KTBFFH!

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