Chelsea FC kick off their Champions League campaign tonight as they welcome FC Basel to Stamford Bridge in this Group E clash. Chelsea fans are eager to put Saturday’s defeat to Everton behind them, and are expecting a good performance against the team they beat in the semi-final of the Europa League last season. Jose Mourinho has expressed his desire to blood young talent against the explosive Swiss side, which should make Chelsea fans uneasy, and here’s why:
Chelsea’s inability to score
Mourinho spent around £60m on bolstering their already congested attacking weapons this summer, with the likes of Schurrle, Willian and Van Ginkel coming in. However, as of yet, Chelsea have struggled to put the ball in the net, with only four goals in four games as a team. There are several reasons why Chelsea’s attack has been impotent; the lack of a proven centre forward, their inability to click, Mourinho’s reluctance to play Demba Ba and most importantly the absence of Juan Mata. Mata is one of the most talented players in the BPL and due to circumstances which haven’t been disclosed Mourinho does not have faith in him. Someone has to step up tonight because Basel are a team that can score at anytime from anywhere.
Chelsea’s worst start under Abramovich era
Jose Mourinho hasn’t been the saviour Chelsea fans had expected to this point. Year 10 of the Abramovich project has been Chelsea’s worst start to a campaign in Roman’s entire tenure. Granted, the season is only four games in and 7 points out of a possible 12 isn’t disastrous; but there has been a lack of consistency through the Chelsea team. However Chelsea have looked solid defensively, with Petr Cech regaining some world class form. Their defensive work is going to be vital tonight to stop Murat Yakins’ adventurous outfit.
Chelsea were fortunate to win last season
FC Basel had a tremendous run in last year’s Europa league which culminated in the semi-final against Chelsea. Although Chelsea won comfortably 5-2 on aggregate, the victory was not as convincing as it may seem. Two David Luiz screamers in either leg were the crucial difference, with one coming at in the 94th minute in Switzerland. At Stamford Bridge, Basel were perhaps the better team for the majority of the game barring ten minutes where Chelsea scored their three goals to sink the Swiss champions. Chelsea were lucky as a very different result could have so easily happened. Basel will look to avenge last season’s defeat, which would of no doubt given them confidence that they can overcome the London club.
The dangerous Mohammed Salah
Basel have a reputable academy which has brought through the likes of Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Ivan Rakitic and Gokhan Inler. Their eye for talent brought Mohamed Salah to their attention, a nifty dribbler who seemed a perfect replacement for the departing Xherdan Shaqiri. The 21- year old, then 19, signed in April 2012 and has been a revelation ever since; the Egyptian has 17 goals in 21 international appearances and caught the attention of the European football world with an exceptional performance in the quarter finals of the Europa League followed by an impressive outing against Chelsea. Salah is one to watch and will cause Chelsea problems tonight as he will look to link up with the prolific Marco Streller.
Basel the English Giantkillers
FC Basel have earned themselves a reputation of an English bogey team. In the 2011/12 season they earned four points off two fixtures against the English giants Manchester United followed by knocking Tottenham out of the Europa League last season and then, as stated previously, a spirited defeat to Chelsea. Chelsea must be wary of the ability of the Swiss team and if, as he has claimed, Mourinho does field a young team they may be susceptible to defeat tonight. It is imperative that Mourinho does not under estimate Murat Yakin and remains tight at the back.