Champions League football resumes in mid-week when Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea make the long trip to Israel to face Maccabi Tel-Aviv at the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa. The home side have had a difficult campaign in Europe with four straight defeats, a run of which started in the first game of the group game when the two sides met each other in London. They are the only side in the tournament without accruing a single point and with the poor run they are in at the moment, it looks like the dubious record could stay on. They go into this game with 3 wins and 2 losses in the last 5 games that includes an impressive 0-3 away win against Haifa FC and it should make for an interesting clash against a Chelsea side that are trying to find their feet at last.
Chelsea ground out a much needed win against Norwich during the weekend, a gritty 1-0, that must have certainly given the players and more importantly the manager, some breathing space. Chelsea can virtually seal qualification to the next round if they manage to beat the Israeli outfit and Dynamo Kiev fail to win in Portugal. Jose Mourinho has claimed post-match, that retaining the title is out of question yet the Blues were still in the race for a top four finish provided they can go on a run of good results from now on. They do find themselves in unfamiliar territory at the moment, in lower mid-table and will need a good morale-boosting win on Tuesday to build on ahead of the London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.
Maccabi Tel-Aviv will be without the services of Ben-Haim (back) and Rajkovic (knee) for the visit of Chelsea.
Chelsea travel to Israel without forward Radamel Falcao and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois while the latter could make a return to the squad in December.
Tel Aviv are facing English opposition in Europe for just the fourth time overall, they have scored just one goal and conceded nine in the previous three games.
The Blues have won just two of their last 10 away games in the Champions League (D5 L3), scoring more than one goal just once in that run.
Maccabi Tel Aviv have scored the joint fewest goals in the Champions League this season (1) and conceded the joint most (11).
Key Men Comparison
Eran Zahavi (Maccabi Tel-Aviv) v Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)
Zahavi is quite simply the most important player for Maccabi Tel-Aviv. The midfielder scored 7 goals in 5 games in the qualifying phase and 1 in 4 games in the group stage encounters. He’s made more attempts on target for the Israeli side, also comes into this game with a goal in his last game in the Israeli Premier League, a successful penalty conversion, will be key to Tel-Aviv’s chances of picking up their first points of the campaign.
Fabregas showed shades of his last season form when he donned the Spain national team shirt in that he produced a man-of-the-match performance in the 2-0 win against England. He built on that individual show with a fine assist for Costa’s solitary goal in the weekend that won the game against Norwich City. His partnership with Costa will be crucial for Chelsea in the coming games that could determine the fate of the side and Jose Mourinho.
A largely comfortable away victory.
Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-3 Chelsea.