Genk Vs. Chelsea, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Preview


Alright. Chelsea have had a pretty poor week, and there's no denying that. We've taken zero points out of six, and although the 1-0 defeat against Queens Park Rangers might be construed as a moral victory, blowing a 2-1 half-time lead against Arsenal to lose 5-3 at Stamford Bridge is bad no matter how you slice it. But we're into a new month now and there's another competition to worry about - the Blues' trip to Belgium to square off against Racing Genk in the UEFA Champions League (Tuesday, Nov 1st; 7:45 PM GMT; 3:45 PM EST).

So far, Genk have played Valencia at home, Bayer Leverkusen away and us away, and have earned one point (0-0, Valencia), scoring zero goals and shipping seven, mostly to us at the Bridge. They're not the same team that they were last year, when they won the Juliper Pro League* - this season they sit in sixth place after twelve matches - and they were most emphatically no match for the Blues at Stamford Bridge.

*Since I became a football blogger, I've learned many things that sit in my instant recall banks (ed note: are you a [fun]ing robot?), including the name of Belgium's top flight and how to spell 'Jussi Jaaskelainen' off the top of my head. Presumably this knowledge is coming at the expense of other areas of my brain, which might explain why I tried to brush my teeth with orange juice this morning.

In fact, Genk may well have been the worst team Chelsea have faced all season, which is saying something since we've played against Bolton Wanderers. They did basically nothing two weeks ago, completely failing to do basic things like 'mark' or 'pass the ball' and (shock!) the Blues had a field day. There's no reason to think things will be very different in Genk - we simply have a much better team than they do.

Ah, but we also have a much better team than Queens Park Rangers and are also favoured to beat Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, so I suppose we shouldn't take things for granted. And yes, if we play as poorly as we did on Saturday, we're in for trouble. But realistically, we're not going to play as poorly as we did on Saturday, because that game represented so much going on at once that it's unreal.

Anyway, as for team news - Didier Drogba, who's still suspended from Premier League action, didn't make the trip as he's busy getting his arm de-screwed (yeah, that's left over from when he broke it in 2010). John Obi Mikel's out with a back problem, and Henrique Hilario is still sick. None of those absences are a particularly big deal, although it would have been good to get Drogba some playing time.

With Chelsea wanting to make a big statement after their disappointing showing last weekend and three points away from essentially sealing qualification, we should expect Andre Villas-Boas to field a strong team on Tuesday. Here's my stab at it:

Chelsea (4-3-3): Petr Cech; Ashley Cole, John Terry, David Luiz, Jose Bosingwa; Raul Meireles, Frank Lampard, Ramires; Juan Mata, Fernando Torres, Nicolas Anelka.

Is that squad good enough to smash Genk to smithereens? Yes, certainly. Will it? Probably. But considering the way things have been going for us as of late, I'm going to wait until the final whistle before I start celebrating. Unless we lose. Or draw. I'll celebrate if we win.

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