CHELSEA V BORDEAUX
Despite a career which has seen Luiz Felipe Scolari manage 16 different teams, in 6 different countries, tonight sees him take charge of his first ever Champions League game as Chelsea take on Bordeaux at Stamford Bridge.
So, knowing how much Abramovich has always wanted the big prize, not to mention how close we came last season, is Scolari feeling the pressure? Not according to him he’s not.
Scolari says “The pressure for me and the players is not only for the Champions League. It is for the FA Cup, the Carling Cup and the Premier League – we want to win all of the games. For me, the Champions League is not more important than the Carling Cup. It is important but it is not more important than a league game. We need to think game by game. If I say the Champions League is the most important then my players will ask why they need to bother in the other games. I respect the Champions League but all games are important. If you think a game is not important you will lose it before it starts.”
So, the Chelsea boss doesn’t view Bordeaux any differently than he would Huddersfield, Sheffield United or even Manchester United. But what have they got in their locker?
Well, like us, Laurent Blanc’s Bordeaux (yes, the Laurent Blanc who played for United) finished runners up in the league last season, although unlike us, they have 5 league titles to their credit – the last one coming in 1999. On the Champions League front they’ve yet to reach a final although managed it in the Uefa cup 12 years ago, losing heavily (5-1 agg) to Bayern Munich. But while it’s probably fair to say the majority see this as one of our easier games from the group, they won’t be rolling over and Chelsea certainly shouldn’t regard them in quite the same way as they would Huddersfield, irrespective of Scolari’s comments. Mind you, with the strong South American contingent at Bordeaux, at least Scolari knows a bit about them.
SOULEYMANE DIAWARA – JOHN TERRY
A 6ft 2in defender, Diawara is a tough tackler and strong in the air. The man from Senegal is in his second season with Bordeaux following a move from Charlton and helped the French side keep 20 clean sheets last term.
After last season’s Champions League ended in tears, Chelsea captain John Terry will no doubt be well up for this one. Usually regarded as a Chelsea ever-present, he’ll no doubt be making the most of this one before his domestic ban rules him out of the game against Manchester United at the weekend.
FERNANDO MENEGAZZO – FRANK LAMPARD
Defensive midfielder Menegazzo is described as ‘the rock’ in the centre of Bordeaux’s side and won’t be easy to get past. His strength and 6ft 1in frame give him an intimidating presence in the Bordeaux midfield.
Following a really good performance against Man City at the weekend, Frank Lampard will come into this game full of confidence, and with the partnership he seems to have struck up with Deco, he’ll always be a threat to the Bordeaux goal.
FERNANDO CAVENAGHI – NICOLAS ANELKA
Cavenaghi is no slouch when it comes to finding the back of the net and has scored 28 times in 48 appearances for the French side. The 24 year old Argentinean has great pace and strength, and the Chelsea defence will need to be on their game to keep him out.
With Didier Drogba missing out on this game, this will be one for Nicolas Anelka. Although hardly prolific for Chelsea, Anelka also bagged one of the goals against City on Saturday which could hopefully see a return to some of his pre-season confidence. We can but hope.