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PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA V FC NORDSJAELLAND

As Stamford Bridge prepares for a night of divided attention, club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton study Matchday Six...


TALKING POINTS
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.

KEY STAT
Shakhtar Donetsk have won their last 16 home games in all competitions in a run stretching back to March.


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.

Chelsea v Juventus


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.

KEY TWEET
What do you predict will be the final scores in tonight's Group E matches? #CFCPMB


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
P W D L F A Pts
Shakhtar Donetsk 5 3 1 1 12 7 10
Juventus 5 2 3 0 11 4 9
Chelsea 5 2 1 2 10 9 7
FC Nordsjaelland 5 0 1 4 3 16 1



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.


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PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA V FC NORDSJAELLAND

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.

Greaves


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.


PMB

 

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


DAYS SINCE
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.

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