Rabu, 19 Oktober 2011

Champions League Group E preview: Chelsea right at home

Chelsea can improve their already dominant position in Champions League Group E when they host lowly Genk in London on Wednesday.
The Blues have not lost a European group stage clash at Stamford Bridge in eight years, and the Belgian First Division champions would need a miracle to take all three points in their first fixture against English opposition in the tournament.

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has a positive recent history with Genk, having led former team Porto to a 7-2 aggregate defeat of the Belgian outfit in the Europa League playoff round last season.

The Londoners are also fresh off a drought-breaking 3-1 win in the Premier League over Everton - a side they had not conquered since the FA Cup final in 2009.

Genk, meanwhile, have lost their past three in all competitions, including a 2-0 defeat by Bayer Leverkusen in the group.

They managed to hold Valencia to a scoreless draw at home on matchday one, and manager Mario Been will be hoping for more of the same defensive stubbornness out of his XI.

In the other game in Group E, Leverkusen will aim to add to their defeat of Genk with another three points when they host Valencia at Bay Arena.

Robin Dutt's men are second in the group, one point above their La Liga opponents.

The Bundesliga side are unbeaten in three matches in all competitions, including a defiant 2-2 draw with 10 men away to Borussia Monchengladbach in the league at their last start.

Brazilian midfielder Renato Augusto - who played the full 90 minutes in the win over Genk - will miss after having knee surgery earlier this month.

Third-choice keeper Bernd Leno will get another chance on the European stage for Leverkusen, with injury still ruling out first-choice stopper Rene Adler and number two Fabian Giefer.

Turkish midfielder Mehmet Topal could make a return to the starting line-up for Valencia, after spending several weeks out with a shoulder injury.

Valencia will be hoping summer signing Sergio Canales or goal machine Roberto Soldado can score their first open-play goal in their European campaign, after they were lucky to scrape a 1-1 draw at home to Chelsea.

Soldado converted a fortunate spot-kick for an alleged foul on Salomon Kalou for handball, but replays suggested the Ivorian did not contact the ball at all as it came in from a corner.

Valencia, though, will take the point, but manager Unai Emery would be all too aware of the need to start scoring to set alight their fight for a top-two spot and a ticket to the knockout stages.

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