Sunny Spain is the scene for Chelsea’s next biggest test, a must-win, or at least a must-not-lose, against Valencia at the historic Mestalla Stadium. I only mention the weather because at the same time, I have to try to navigate through feet of snow and a “Bomb Cyclone” that’s ravaging the West Coast. But you don’t care about that.
What you do care about is Chelsea finishing the job that got off to a most unfortunate start with the 1-0 home loss to this same Valencia side. Subsequent results, including wins against Lille and Ajax, not to mention that most outrageous 4-4 draw against the latter as well, have left Chelsea in a three-way tie in Group H. The top two advance to the knockout rounds, the odd team out drop into the Europa League. Not fun. (Lille could technically slide into third, but that’s unlikely.)
The winner of this match will be guaranteed a top two spot, thanks to the Champions League group stage head-to-head tie-breaker rules (regardless of whether we’re talking about a two-way or three-way tie between the three teams in question).
Date / Time: Wednesday, November 27, 2019, 17:55 GMT; 12:55pm EST; 11:25pm IST
Venue: Estadio de Mestalla, Valencia, Spain
Referee: Felix Zwayer — this will the be third Chelsea match for Zwayer, who was also the official for our 1-0 win over Slavia Prague in the Europa League quarterfinal first leg last season, and the 4-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the 2015-16 Champions League group stages.
Forecast: Not snowing
On TV: BT Sport 3 (UK); TNT, TUDN, UniMás (USA); Sony TEN 2 (India); SuperSport 5 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); WatchTNT, B/R Live, TUDN en Vivo (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Valencia team news: Los Che have lost just three times since winning at Stamford Bridge, which was manager Albert Celades’s first match in charge after replacing Marcelino, but one of those was over the weekend, against Real Betis, who aren’t exactly a powerhouse. That result leaves Valencia smack dab in the middle of the table in 10th, with 5 wins, 5 draws, and 4 losses, 20 scored, 20 conceded.
And yet, they should not be taken lightly, not by a long shot. They will be confident of getting a result here.
“We are having a great Champions League campaign. That we have things in our own hands on Matchday 5 heading into a home game, in one of the toughest groups in the competition, shows that we are doing things well. But the most important stuff is still to come; 90 minutes at Mestalla and then 90 in Amsterdam. We are all up for the game and are confident.”
-Dani Parejo; source: UEFA
Valencia will be without two of their starters from the first meeting, with Geoffrey Kondogbia and Denis Cheryshev both out with injuries. They’re joined by Moucar Diakhaby and Gonçalo Guedes, while defender Ezequiel Garay and pirouetting enthusiast Francis Coquelin are doubtful.
Chelsea team news: Tammy Abraham has called this the biggest game of the season, if not his career, and has joined the likes of head coach Frank Lampard and Chelsea captain César Azpilicueta, among others, in building up the importance of this match. All hope is not lost if we lose, but the permutations are certainly not favorable if we don’t win.
Chelsea weren’t really expected to come away with three points from the Etihad over the weekend, so the 2-1 loss against Manchester City was as encouraging as it was disappointing. That won’t be the case if we fail to pick a result here.
Previously: This will be Chelsea’s fourth match at the Mestalla, winning twice in 2007 and drawing 1-1 in 2011. That first win, in the 2006-07 Champions League quarterfinals second leg, featured Michael Essien’s famous winning goal from right back. Overall, Chelsea’s only defeat against Valencia in seven tries was thanks to Ross Barkley’s missed penalty earlier this season.