Basel v Chelsea : Champions League Match Preview
The second coming of Jose Mourinho has not been the smooth ride to trophies that many Chelsea fans may have naively expected. Whereas back in the early days of the Abramovich ownership, an open cheque book allowed the Portuguese to plunder the transfer market at will to build a trophy-winning squad, this time has arrived to find a squad overflowing with talent, if not perhaps formatted in the style he would prefer. It is therefore perhaps of little surprise that the stuttering first steps of the new tenure have only, in patches, reached the required level of performance, as the season wears on however, both the owner and coach will expect - and require - a steadier and more steadfast step on the road to success.
One of he Blues' early stumbles came in the opening game of their Champions League at homer to Basel. Although it was not a particularly coherent display, a goal by the estimable oscar just prior to the break sent Chelsea into the dressing room with a lead. Surely, now settled by the goal, they would come out in the second half with renewed confidence and assurance to sew up the points. The second goal never came however, and Swiss team, competent, but little else, gradually saw the chance for a famous victory. Two second half goals saw that come to pass, and in the end, the blues were a well-beaten team. Tuesday sees the return leg in Switzerland, and Mourinho will be particularly keen to see his team put the record straight with a victory that would not only seal qualification, but with a home game to come against group makeweights Steaua Bucharest, perhaps tie up to place in the group.
Although victory will not be easily gained, the game against West Ham United on Saturday evening illustrated that the squad is becoming more at ease with the requirements of Mourinho. Since the reverse against Basel, Chelsea have pursued the Champions League game with the vigour of a squad determined to purge their souls of the display and demonstrate their quality. A 0-4 victory in Bucharest was followed by mirroring away and home 3-0 victories against respected German club, Schalke, and Mourinho will be looking not only for victory, but also a display that continues sort of statement of intent that he requires.
Although Basel will provide a stern test, I expect the Blues to continue their Champions League run with a two goal victory that will allow them to top the group barring any slip up against Bucharest. A draw would probably have a similar effect on the groups' outcome, but a victory would speak so much more of the progress of the club.
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