Wed 05 Dec 2012 19:45 (Attendance: 40,084)
As Stamford Bridge prepares for a night of divided attention, club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton study Matchday Six...
It's not over yet. The corpulent dame may be gargling in her dressing room, but unless Shakhtar - formidable at the Donbass Arena - fail to beat Juventus, Chelsea need to see off the Danes of Nordsjaelland to keep our Champions League defence alive.
It eems churlish to dwell on the unwelcome milestone of becoming the first winners of this format to bow out after the first phase next season. Other clubs may consider qualifying for the knockout phase a trophy in itself: the fact is that we are still able to call ourselves champions of Europe.
In any case some of the continent's most fabled sides have fallen at the first hurdle in defence of their European crown: Real Madrid in 1960, Celtic 1967, Feyenoord 1970, Ajax 1973, Liverpool 1978, Nottingham Forest 1980, Hamburg 1983, and Dinamo Bucharest 1986.
So let's still believe Chelsea's name is on this Champions League trophy this season - if only because it was engraved there in May.
'First of all we have to do our job,' midfielder Juan Mata reminded everyone yesterday. He also made it clear the players are aware of the atmosphere in the stands.
As fans we cannot affect events in the Ukraine - they will be relayed to nervous supporters via the big screens in the stadium and the apps on phones. But we can ensure the backing of the team to help them do what is necessary and gain the three points.
Nordsjaelland may have several Chelsea supporters in their ranks - there were plenty in the Parken stands in October - but they will be anxious to capitalise on the hosts' dented confidence and increase their haul of just one point from the five group games to date. This is their penultimate match before a three-month winter break.
Should the night not go our way the Blues will play Europa League football from February, with perhaps the opportunity to knock Tottenham out of Europe again en route to a final in Amsterdam.
Clutching at straws, the former UEFA Cup is the one piece in UEFA's silverware collection that has eluded us to date.
If the worst does happen, the Blues will not be out of Europe's elite competition because of tonight's results alone. Perhaps the crucial result was Juventus at home (pictured below), in which the Blues surrendered a two-goal advantage to draw 2-2. That swung the group Juve's way by three points and put the champions on the back foot. A win tonight could still transform the season.
The Club World Cup, the competition to which Chelsea fly out next week, actually starts tomorrow evening (Thursday 6 December) with host nation Japan's representatives Hiroshima facing Oceania champions Auckland City of New Zealand in Yokohama.
With heavy heart we recall the disappointing second-half performance at the Boleyn Ground. Credit Sam Allardyce for his game-changing substitutions, but that was the first time in a decade and half that the Blues have succumbed 1-3 in the league having led 1-0 at half-time.
The match on Wednesday 9 April 1997 - four days before a more crucial FA Cup semi-final - was at Coventry City, and it was 40-year-old player-manager Gordon Strachan, along with forwards Dion Dublin and Peter Ndlovu, who dismantled Ruud Gullit's Chelsea in the second period.
Part of the fallout from that debacle was a war of words, fought largely on Italian sports pages, between Gullit and his disgruntled striker Gianluca Vialli. 'I just want to forget about this and do what we have to do against Wimbledon,' said the Dutchman, and his team carried out that plan expertly, winning the semi-final 3-0, then famously beating Boro at Wembley.
Other Group E fixture
Tue 7.45pm - Shakhtar Donetsk v Juventus
We have to win and Shakhtar Donetsk have to beat Juventus to ensure Chelsea progress to the last 16.
|Champions League Group E table|
Champions League top scorers
Alan (Braga) 5
Burak Yilmaz (Galatasaray) 5
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 5
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) 5
Oscar (Chelsea) 4
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke) 4
Robert Lewandowski (Dortmund) 4
Roberto Soldado (Valencia) 4
Willian (Shakhtar Donetsk) 4
The draw for the Champions League last 16 and Europa League last 32 will be made on Thursday 20 December starting at 10.30am and 1pm respectively.
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
It's all about two wins tonight - for Chelsea and Shakhtar. We look at lessons learned from the previous match against Nordsjaelland in October.
Whatever happens in the Donbass Arena between Shakhtar and Juve, Chelsea have a tricky task of beating a lively Danish team that is under no pressure and can play freely.
They like to work the ball forward swiftly and have a number of strong, technical players. Particularly impressive in Denmark was Jores Okore, but he will miss tonight's game having torn a thigh muscle. The athletic centre-back was a forceful presence for much of the game, despite falling foul of Nordsjaelland's high-risk strategy of playing the ball out from the back.
It is a policy that could again prove costly with the Stamford Bridge crowd bearing down on them.
It was Okore's pass to Enoch Adu that allowed Fernando Torres to steal the ball and feed Frank Lampard, who set up Juan Mata for Chelsea's opener. The Chelsea centre-forward had a lively game that night, without scoring - he hit the net once from an offside position and worked a couple of one-on-ones with Jesper Hansen.
On Saturday West Ham seemed alert to Chelsea's desire to feed Torres goals and mobbed him whenever the ball came near. He eluded them enough to set up Juan Mata's goal (his eighth of the season in all competitions) but was often crowded out.
Mata netted twice in Copenhagen, the second from another wonderful passing move. Yet the 4-0 scoreline does not tell the full story. Chelsea's pressing in the early stages had confined the Danes to quarters but it did not endure and the hosts rallied strongly.
With nippy Dutchman Joshua John causing problems, cutting in down the Chelsea right against Ramires and Branislav Ivanovic, several chances were created for the Nordsjaelland forwards. When they were not squandering the openings they found Petr Cech and Ashley Cole blocking their route to the net.
Rafael Benítez may be concerned that this flank was the source of many problems at the Boleyn Ground too.
Attacking midfielder Oscar started on the bench against the Hammers but is Chelsea's top scorer in this competition with four goals in five games. He failed to find the net at Parken but was at his scheming best and assisted Mata and Ramires's late strikes.
Three of the Blues' four goals in Copenhagen came in the last 12 minutes of normal time as the Danes appeared to tire. They have one more league game after this match before taking their extended winter break.
Click on tabs above for more Briefing.
WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea and FC Nordsjaelland had never met before this season. October 2 was an historic night for the Danes - their first-ever home match in Europe's elite competition.
Chelsea's first competitive European fixture was against Danish opposition BK Frem in September 1958 in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
Frem was essentially a composite team of Copenhagen clubs' amateur players. Ted Drake's Blues had won the first leg 3-1, and the return at the sparsely-attended Bridge (there were just over 13,000 present) witnessed a frantic opening. Frem's 34-year-old centre-half George Lees, a Shropshire man married to a Dane and settled in Copenhagen, slid the ball into his own net attempting to clear after just five minutes' play.
Right from the kick off, though, Chelsea were caught napping as Soren Anderson crossed for inside forward Willy Schone to head past Reg Williams.
Half an hour later Schone tumbled under the Blues keeper's clumsy challenge and a penalty was awarded. Winger Jens Hansen took it and Williams made amends by turning his fierce effort round for a corner.
Ten minutes later, on the stroke of half-time, Jimmy Greaves (pictured below) restored Chelsea's advantage. The prodigious youngster drifted past three players before firing into the net.
The second half was live on BBC TV and the Blues at last turned on the style for the viewing public. Still, for all the chances created, two goals in two minutes midway through the second half sufficed to settle the tie. Greaves added a third before Peter Sillett fired in a powerful free kick to make a final score of 4-1.
Chelsea's biggest home win in the Champions League
19/10/2011 - Chelsea 5-0 KRC Genk - Group stage
Nordsjaelland's biggest away win in Europe
17/07/2008 - TVMK Tallinn 0-3 FC Nordsjaelland - UEFA Cup 1st qual rd
Chelsea won the Champions League: 200
Shakhtar Donetsk failed to win at home: 276
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,755
Liverpool won the league: 8,250
Visit again at lunchtime for part two of the Briefing.
The Blues have not won in six matches (three draws, three defeats).
Chelsea have won seven and drawn one of our last eight home games in the Champions League.
The Blues are unbeaten in 28 Champions League group matches (21 wins, seven draws) at Stamford Bridge since our last defeat in October 2003, against Beşiktaş.
We have lost only two of our last 35 home Champions League matches (including 25 victories) since 2006.
The Blues have topped our group in seven of our last nine Champions League campaigns. We have never failed to progress to the knockout stage.
|Chelsea's home record against Danish teams|
|1958/59||BK Frem||W 4-1||Fairs Cup 1st round 1st leg (won 7-2 on agg)|
|1998/99||FC Copenhagen||D 1-1||Cup Winners' Cup 2nd round 2nd leg (won 2-1 on agg)|
|2010/11||FC Copenhagen||D 0-0||Champions League round of 16 1st leg (won 2-0 on agg)|
Chelsea's last ten years in Europe
2002/03 - UEFA Cup - first round
2003/04 - Champions League - semi-final
2004/05 - Champions League - semi-final
2005/06 - Champions League - round of 16
2006/07 - Champions League - semi-final
2007/08 - Champions League - runners-up
2008/09 - Champions League - semi-final
2009/10 - Champions League - round of 16
2010/11 - Champions League - quarter-final
2011/12 - Champions League - winners
|Last six results|