In the last edition of the Champions league, Chelsea knocked out Valencia. But that was the Chelsea of Jose Mourinho, and things have changed drastically for the London club. Their new coach, Avram Grant, is having a hard time trying to convince players, fans and himself that he has the goods to carry Chelsea to European glory, and after the disappointing one-one draw at home to modest Rosenberg in the last game, Grant really has to pull something out of the hat in order to make his job secure. It is not going to be easy, though. Valencia come into this game with seven consecutive wins in all competitions, and see in Chelsea a wounded animal just ready to take down.
It still isn’t certain if Chelsea Skipper John Terry will make an appearance or not; he had surgery on his broken cheek bone just a couple of days ago. He is having a special face mask made of him so he will probably make the starting line up. Luckily for Grant, the centre of defense will get a boost as Ricardo Carvalho trained this week. He had been out since the first week of the season but now looks set to get back into the squad, as does Michael Essien, who missed the Fulham game.
Valencia top their Champions league group after winning at Schalke 04, and now have the chance to stamp their authority on the group. They will be without Vicente, who is still sidelined through injury, but can now call on veteran goalkeeper Cañizares.
If ever there is a time when Valencia could beat Chelsea it is now. Last season’s Champions league saw them thrown out of the competition by Chelsea –somewhat unluckily, it has to be said- and the players are baying for revenge. The London outfit is still in turmoil after Mourinho’s exit, and it could take some time for Avram Grant’s authority to stamp itself on the players, if it ever does. I don’t see Chelsea capable of beating Valencia in this game. Grant is definitely not the man for Chelsea and he seems more Abramavich’s puppet than a serious trainer. The Spanish team are in fine form at the moment, even if they are not playing spectacular football. I’m going for a home win here. Valencia coach Quique Sanchez Flores has been speaking about getting the fans on their side all this week as recently they have been booing the side even when they won games. An early goal by the local team would have the right effect and I don’t see Chelsea with enough fire to be able to claw their way back.
Prediction: Home win (2-1)