Chelsea are in danger of being distracted by next season’s Champions League. The superb comeback against Napoli should have instilled confidence and optimism at Stamford Bridge, with the prospective glittering prize of a semi final against Barcelona an immediate goal. However, the fear of missing out on the competition all together next year hangs over the Blues, with the underlying suspicion that the team is not good enough for the tournament being reinforced by a superior Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
Roberto Di Matteo therefore has the tough task of bringing the confident and determined Chelsea to the Estadio da Luz, not the diffident and unimaginative team that has often turned up this season. It will presumably a night for the old guard that stunned Napoli and these experienced Champions League stalwarts will relish another opportunity to prove they were right to disrupt former boss Andre Villas Boas’ phasing out approach and those following Victor Chandler will keep a close eye on things.
Whether Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Asley Cole et al can contain an enterprising Benfica team is another matter. The Reds have scored in every Champions League match this season and have scored 29 goals in their last 10 home matches in all competitions. They were frustrated in a 0-0 draw at lowly opposition last time out, when principal play-maker Pablo Aimar was sent off, but Jorge Jesus’ outfit are a technically accomplished attacking force, with joint top League scorer Oscar Cardozo a big threat.
Benfica lost three matches out of four in February, but these were there only reverses in their last 20 and the team handily placed in third in Primeira Liga, two points behind leaders Braga, are certainly in better form than the Blues. Di Matteo has brought some stability to Stamford Bridge, but the win over Napoli was very much a one-off, the performances against Manchester City and Spurs being reminiscent of those produced under the former coach and anyone looking at www.betvictor.com needs to bear this in mind.
The Blues are winless on the road in the Champions League this term and should be braced for another comeback operation at Stamford Bridge. The away goal thy scored in Napoli proved vital last time around and they will need that assistance again as they bid to reach a fourth semi final in six years.