Chelsea go into tomorrow night’s tie against Steaua Bucharest as underdogs in the Europa League betting following a dismal display in Romania last week, but are facing something of a lose-lose situation whether they progress or not.
The West London club could go out of a competition they may not be taking very seriously judging by their performance last Thursday but even if they succeed it is going to cause a crazy fixture pile-up and uncertainty over when we can play our FA Cup replay against Manchester United.
Apart from the obvious omissions of Demba Ba and Oriol Romeu, everyone is available for tomorrow’s game but what sort of team are we likely to see on the night?
It is clear that finishing in the top four of the Premier League is our priority and ideally we’d finish third and avoid having to play any Champions League qualifiers. The FA Cup is the most prestigious cup we’re currently competing for and probably the best chance of silverware considering our pedigree in the competition, so the Europa League is very much bottom of the agenda and I reckon the line-up against Steaua will reflect that.
B. Ivanovic – G. Cahill – J. Terry (c) – R. Bertrand
F. Lampard – Ramires
V. Moses – Y. Benayoun – M. Marin
That would be the sort of team that I could see taking the field tomorrow, but I’d prefer to see Nathan Ake in there with Paulo Ferreira at right-back and Branislav Ivanovic playing in central defence.
It is a real pity that we are in this situation as Chelsea are an ambitious club that has designs on winning every competition they compete in and won’t be happy that progression in this one is going to have a knock-on effect on the rest of our season, so although I say it with heavy heart I wouldn’t be surprised to see us crash out of this one.