News that John Terry is out for six to eight weeks, therefore missing the home leg against Napoli in which a 2-goal deficit needs to be overturned if The Blues are to progress, made the 3-1 loss, absent of Terry anyway, even more bitter. It has aided the anti-Andre brigade; added fuel to the fire of controversy surrounding the dropping of key players in “political,” according to Roy Keane, rather than “performance” based squabbles; and has left England with a realistic chance of seeing not one of their clubs in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, for the first time in sixteen years.
Whilst opinions, publically at least, remain divided over the expected levels of confidence Russian owner Roman Abramovich has in his £13 million-pound man, there are sure signs of the Portuguese’s side being able to overturn the first leg in which Chelsea led for the whole of 18-minutes. At 3-1 down after the first 90-minutes, following an Edison Cavani equaliser and a brace from a blessed Ezequiel Lavezzi, who puts his brace down to the luck of a mascot’s kiss, Chelsea only need a 2-0 win to progress on away goals and the ability to do so is within them.
Champions League Home Form under AVB
Whilst their impressive home form in the Premier League under previous managers (last season’s Ancelotti-led Chelsea side only lost twice at home all season, conceding just 13), hasn’t been reproduced under Villas-Boas, having already lost more and conceded more than last season at Stamford Bridge, their Champions League home form has been impeccable.
In Chelsea’s three group stage fixtures, in Group E alongside Bayern Leverkusen, Genk and Valencia, The Blues achieved a 100% record on home soil. Furthermore, not only were all nine points collected at Stamford Bridge, but they were collected without conceding a goal and hitting ten of their own in the process – an average of 3.33 per game.
Conversely, the defeat at Napoli wasn’t too surprising considering Chelsea failed to win on their travels in the group stages scoring just three, whilst Napoli went into the tie in Naples undefeated at home during this competition and are unbeaten in 16-years on home turf.
With fire in their bellies, the pressure heating up and fireworks expected if Chelsea don’t reverse the tie on home soil, their explosive strike force are expected to continue pulling the trigger in the frenzied manner they have do so far in the Champions League.
In the group stages, Chelsea took a punt at goal more than any other of the 31 teams in Europe, with 54 shots spraying goal-wards in their six group games. With thirteen goals scored in the group stages and fifty-four shots taken, Chelsea averaged nine shots per game and scored 2.13 goals per game.
Therefore, for Chelsea to advance to the quarter-finals, albeit on away goals alone, all that is necessary is a continuation of what they’ve been doing: a trigger-happy attack, Mata creating the chances and the defence providing a shut out performance. Surely that’s manageable, Andre?
In the Champions League, when Chelsea have gone behind in the first leg away from home, more often than not, The Blues have mustered up enough bouncebackability to secure a victory in the second leg. What do you mean bouncebackability isn’t a word, Word? Ian Dowie said it and he has a degree.
Out of the ten times Chelsea have lost their first leg away from home, they’ve bounced back to win the home leg six times. With an impressive home record so far in this year’s competition, Chelsea should pull on their form at Stamford Bridge to earn a place in the last eight.
With Napoli favouring a three-man defence and already proving beatable away from home, having come unstuck against Bayern Munich and Manchester City, losing and drawing respectively, Chelsea’s trigger happy strike force should stick to their guns and fire away, in the knowledge that home form, scoring ratios and the history books are loaded in their favour.