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CL Preview, part 2: MŠK Žilina v. Chelsea

The what: Champions League, group stage - MŠK Žilina v. Chelsea
The where: Stadium Pod Dubňom (11,181)
The when: September 15, 7:45pm local time (2:45pm EST)
The how: Fox Soccer Channel (DirecTV 619, Dish Network 149)
The why: Because an excellent start is a must, particularly in the doldrums of Slovakia. And because a host of fringe players - fringe used in the loosest translation - will be making their inaugural starts of the season. A win for us is likely a win for them.
The referee: Bjorn Kuipers‎

11K strong. Safe to say this place will be packed to the gills.

The punt: Daniel Sturridge will be starting in stead of Didier Drogba. As direct a forward as he is, put a fiver on Studge to open the scoring.
The stat: The average salary in Slovakia? $10,000 per.

Curious about our choice for this week's stat? Read on to understand just why the average yearly salary of a Slovakian is relevant to Wednesday's game. So, pricing for a normal ticket to a Zilina match is a nominal $10. For tonight's CL encounter with the Chels? Between €50 and €500. That's a 550 percent increase. Hmmmmm. I doubt UEFA will take kindly to news of such price gouging.

MŠK Žilina
Form: Good
Team: A mystery
Doubtful: ?
Injured: ?
Suspended: None
Leading scorer: Me
Quote: "It's a great challenge for me and I'm really looking forward to it. On the other hand, we won't sell ourselves short. We want to show our supporters quality football and we'd like to get some points from our meeting with Chelsea. We respect our opponents; they're a really big club. Chelsea are obviously superior to us, but football is about 11 players playing against 11 players and we want to walk off with our heads high after the match." -Zilina manager Pavel Hapal

Does anyone know anything about this club? I don't.

Robert Jez is the captain. He's dreamy. Momodou Ceesay is the guy after his performance against Sparta. He also had a short spell with Chelsea in the academy. It didn't work out - obviously.

Last time.

League Form: WWWW
Team: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Alex, Zhirkov, Essien, Benayoun, Mikel, Sturridge, Malouda, Anelka, Turnbull, Hilario, Ferreira, Ramires, Kalou, Kakuta, Van Aanholt, Bruma
Doubtful: No one?
Injured: Lampard (groin), Bosingwa (fitness), Bruma (hernia)
Suspended: Drogba (1 of 2)
Leading scorer: Drogba, Malouda 4
Quote: "This year is very important because the final is at Wembley and no London team have won the Champions League. Maybe that can be a good motivation. The first aim is to play the final. If you play the final, you have done a good job. And after, there is a time to prepare for the final. We have to show our quality and arrive at the right time in the Champions League fully fit. This is the key. We have to arrive in March with all the players fit." -Carlo Ancelotti

Great to see King Carlo opting for an alternate XI for this one. His confirmation that the likes of Yuri, Danny and Yossi will be in from the start sort of solidifies what many of us had hoped - that Carlo will in fact make use of this squad, the entire squad. McEachran, Van Aanholt, Walker, Kakuta and Borini have also traveled so you've got to think at least three of them will be on the bench in Slovakia.

Other than that, business as usual. Three points, please.

The real stat: Chelsea have never failed to progress to the Champions League knockout stages in eight attempts.
The real why: The Champions League Final is at Wembley. In London. No London club has ever won the CL. Need I say more?


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