It's funny to look back now to the first game between these two sides in the middle of September. Off to a bad start in the league, Chelsea were hoping to avoid the dreaded Ghosts of Rosenborg of 2007. Little did we know, it would get far-far worse still! So young, so naive. There's a whole generation or two of Chelsea fans who are far less pessimistic than those who have come before. This is our learning experience.
And yet, Jose Mourinho's still in the job. There's been no mutiny, no backstabbing, no player power shenanigans. Well, player power is still very much a feature, but this time, it's in support of the manager. Unity! The fans have embraced the struggle and wear it almost as a badge of honor. And just imagine how amazing it will feel when we turn this around and finish in the top 4 ahead of, say, Spurs or Arsenal or Manchester United.
Or we just go ahead and win the Champions League again; against all odds, again. And Papy Djilobodji pulls the rabbit out of the hat!
On a serious note, it was vintage Chelsea on Saturday in the win against Norwich City, so let's keep that going. Just win, baby.
Date / Time: Tuesday, November 24, 2015; 19:45 GMT; 2:45pm EST; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Sammy Ofer Stadium, Haifa, Israel (Maccabi Tel-Aviv's home ground is Bloomfield Stadium, but all three of their home matches in the group stages were played at the twice as large national stadium in Haifa)
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco — once a rising star of the FIFA refereeing scene, Mallenco's still just 42. We last saw him way back in 2011, when Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea lost 1-0 at home to Manchester United in the first leg of the quarterfinals. He also refereed our 2-2 draw against Juventus in the second leg of the Round of 16 in 2009. That wasn't the referee's best day, but Hiddink's Chelsea survived. We would not get so lucky a couple rounds later, with a certain Tom Henning Øvrebø...
Forecast: A nice warm day on the Mediterranean, followed by a nice warm night on the Mediterranean.
On TV: BT Sport 2 (UK); Fox Sports regional networks (USA); TEN Sports (India); elsewhere
Online: BT Sport (UK); Fox Soccer 2Go (USA); TEN Sports Live (India)
Maccabi Tel-Aviv team news: Since we last saw them, Maccabi have had rather mixed fortunes. Generally good league results have been paired with terrible Champions League ones, and they were also eliminated from the Israeli League Cup. They've won three straight in the league to remain top, but they did lose 3-1 to Porto at home in the meantime.
The only two names on Slavisa Jokanovic's injury list are forward Dejan Radonjic, who was a second half substitute in the first match and has not made an appearance since, and Tal Ben Haim II, that is the winger, not the ex-Chelsea defender. As in the first match, the hosts' one and only dangerman remains Eran Zahavi, who's continued to pour in the goals domestically at a goal-per-game rate and has Maccabi's one and only goal in the group stages as well (a penalty against Porto).
Chelsea team news: Thibaut Courtois and his surgically repaired meniscus are a couple weeks away while Radamel Falcao remains sidelined with a mystery strain, sprain, or badness at football, or all of the above. Future Champions League final winning goal-scorer Papy Djilobodji is ineligible, as is cheerleader and backup goalkeeper Marco Amelia.
Chelsea have won a match, finally, on Saturday, which means we can pull back the veil of fakery and truly begin the season. Right? Right! Onwards and upwards.
A win here, combined with Dynamo Kiev dropping points away to Porto would ensure Chelsea's spot in the knockout rounds. A draw and a Dynamo loss would do the same. A loss leaves everything in play, including the ignominy of the Europa Leauge. Let's not do that again.
Previously: First leg highlights, the largest margin of victory on the season so far.