Chelsea manager Avram Grant knows what is at stake when the Blues host Olympiacos at Stamford Bridge tomorrow in the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. He summed it up today, when asked whether it would be a "disastrous" result if Chelsea went out of the competition:
"If we do not qualify I don't know the word." Catastrophe, perhaps? Grant nodded, adding: "You will find the words."
Such is the pressure stacked upon Chelsea. The Blues, coming off an impressive 4-0 victory over West Ham on the weekend, find themselves a goal away from crashing out of the CL to a side they should not only defeat, but should defeat handily.
Grant got it all wrong in Greece, leaving out Lampard and Terry (not so bad) and replacing Joe Cole on the left with Anelka (McLovin bad). Let's hope he's at least learned a little something and will have Cole back where he belongs. Terry and Lampard will no doubt find places, but will he stick with Ballack, whom was superb against West Ham, as well? (We can only hope.) Though I'd like to see some sort of a 4-4-2 -- a 4-1-2-1-2 with Drogba/Anelka anyone? -- I think Grant will stick with the 4-3-3. Anelka was sharp against West Ham at the point, but will likely find the bench in favor of the mighty Drogs.
Olympiacos enters the match with a slew on injuries, most notably Lua Lua who reportedly dislocated his shoulder over the weekend. Five other regulars are out as well. I expect the Greeks to sit back early and attempt to soak up whatever pressure is presented. What that means is it basically boils down to whether we take advantage of what's presented at the opening. If not, things could get rather interesting as the match progresses.
Grant has yet to prove himself worthy of his title when it comes to critical matches. With this being the biggest of his tenure thus far, he must provide the goods. Failure is not an option -- well, if he wants to keep his job.