Chelsea are facing a battle to qualify with three teams tied on seven points in their group. They travel to face one of their main competitors on Wednesday, as they will face off with Valencia. During the previous meeting, the Spanish side took the three points. However, the Blues had the better chances and came away feeling very unfortunate to be on the losing side. Since that game, the Blues have developed a lot as a side, as shown at the weekend as they gave Manchester City a scare. If they can perform to a similar level in Spain, they will be confident of taking the points.
Valencia have been showing signs of improvement in recent weeks, but they are still inconsistent, as shown by their recent defeat to Real Betis. However, they have already beaten Chelsea once this season and that will give them confidence ahead of Wednesday night. In their previous Champions League match, the Spaniards came from behind to beat Lille by a convincing 4-1 scoreline. They were excellent in the second half and showed their quality in the final third. Although they may not have the quality of their Premier League opposition, they are experienced at this level with some quality players.
Frank Lampard will be enjoying his first season in charge, but he won’t be getting complacent. He knows that his team must turn a good start into something more substantial. The pressure will quickly build if they fall out of the top four and fail to qualify for the knockout rounds of the Champions League. This is a key fixture for the manager, with a win all but confirming their place in the final 16. The Blues haven’t lost in any of their last three matches at the Mestalla and if they maintain that record, they will be confident of their progression chances.
- Valencia have scored in each of their last nine matches across all competitions.
- Chelsea have managed to score in every away match this season. It can be argued that they are an even more dangerous team away from home.
The Valencia captain is obviously their best player on the pitch, both in terms of quality and leadership. He is key to their hopes of making it to the next round of the competition, but he will be facing a difficult challenge to dominate the central areas. Chelsea have plenty of energy in their midfield, with Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Matteo Kovacic expected to start on Wednesday. At the beginning of the campaign, the 30-year-old has already contributed eight goals and three assists across all competitions. This includes a goal in the Champions League, which came from the penalty spot in their previous outing against Lille. Parejo averages 1.3 shots, 1.8 key passes and two dribbles per game in the competition. Meanwhile, his accuracy on the ball is underlined by his passing accuracy of 90.7%. Although Valencia aren’t as good as they have been in the past, their captain has the ability to win games at the highest level and he will relish the chance to play a starring role on Wednesday night.
The biggest positive to emerge from Saturday’s defeat to Manchester City was the re-emergence of N’Golo Kante as a box-to-box midfielder. Maurizio Sarri was criticised for using the Frenchman in the role, but Lampard has persisted with it and it is now clear why both managers have decided to play him there. Jorginho has started to dominate matches from deep with his passing range, as he dictates the tempo for the Blues. As a more advanced midfielder, Kante can press from the front and he is very intelligent with his runs in the attacking half, posing a goal threat. It was the former Leicester City midfielder’s determination that led to Chelsea’s goal on Saturday, which was his third strike of the season in only six Premier League matches. His development since arriving in England has been incredible and there is no doubting that he is one of the best in Europe. In his only Champions League outing this season, he made seven ball recoveries, which shows that he continues to thrive in that aspect of the game. He will be key on Wednesday night, as Chelsea need to dominate the midfield areas.
Denis Cheryshev is a doubt for the home side. They have a number of injury concerns with Goncalo Guedes, Cristiano Piccini, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Francis Coquelin and Ezequiel Garay all missing.
Callum Hudson-Odoi is a doubt for the visitors after sitting out of the recent game against Manchester City. Mason Mount will be pushing for a recall to the starting eleven. Antonio Rudiger and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are closing in on a return, but this game will come too soon for them.
This will be a pivotal fixture in the group, with Chelsea needing to avoid defeat to ensure they remain in pole position to qualify for the next stage. The previosu fixture will remain in their minds, as it was a game that they really should have won. They missed several good opportunities, in what served as a reminder to this young squad that there is no margin for error in the Champions League. Since that game, the Blues have improved a lot and they continue to get better under Lampard. They should have enough to win on Wednesday, with their recent performance away against Ajax the blueprint for victory.