After a week that has been dominated by Fernando Torres’ alleged comments about his team-mates being too slow, Chelsea host Bayer Leverkusen tonight as Champions League football makes a welcome return to the football calendar.
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas will have to decide what to do with Torres for tonight’s game. The comments – made in a Spanish interview – are still being investigated before the club decide on what action to take.
The former Porto man shouldn’t let this distract him from his first European game as Chelsea manager though. First and foremost, it is important that the team picks up three points this evening to get their Champions League campaign up and running.
They have made a solid if unspectacular start to the Premier League season, but as many Chelsea fan will tell you, their manager will be judged on how far he can take them in the elite club competition for European football.
It won’t be easy for Chelsea tonight against a dangerous Bayer Leverkusen side, nor will it be a foregone conclusion that they qualify from Group E. As well as the Bundesliga runners-up from last year, they must face Spanish Club Valencia and Belgian champions Genk.
The Blues will of course be favourites to top the group and they will be determined to do this justice with three points this evening in front of a lively and expectant Stamford Bridge crowd.
Team news wise, a decision on Torres is the biggest one. With Didier Drogba injured, you would usually expect the Spaniard to be guaranteed a start, but Daniel Sturridge – who replaced Torres at the weekend and scored against Sunderland – is pushing for a place.
Elsewhere, Michael Essien joins Drogba in the physio room, while Ramires is suspended and Romelu Lukaku and Ryan Bertrand are ineligible.
As for the German side, former Chelsea man Michael Ballack could start, but they will have their work cut out to get a positive result.
Chelsea – who will be desperate to end their wait for Champions League silverware this year – have never lost at home to German opposition.
This one gets underway at Stamford Bridge from 7.45pm this evening.