Shark ENG (1)
Sep 292014

After a comfortable win at Aston Villa over the weekend in the league game, Chelsea travels to the Alvalade stadium in Lisbon to face Sporting CP. Chelsea and Sporting Lisbon will look to pick their first three points in the Champions League after a less-than impressive performance saw the two teams picking up just a point in a 1-1 draw in match day one of the Uefa champions league 2014/2015 season against Schalke 04 and Maribor respectively, hence, the more important it becomes for both manager to unleash the best of their arsenal come Tuesday night.

Sporting manager Marco Silva will fancy going with the side that drew one all with FC Porto in the Portuguese Liga ZON Sagres with Rui Patricio in goal and the quartet of Mauricio, Mahamadou-Naby Sarr, Jonathan Cristian Silva and Cedric Soares holding down their place in the back four. William Carvalho will continue as the team’s Central defensive midfielder alongside Joao Mario and Adrien Silva. Nani, Andre Carrilo and Islam Slimani will complete the attacking trio upfront though its likely Carrilo loses his place to Diego Chapel after his not-too-impressive showing against FC Porto at the weekend.

There could also be a place for Fredy Montero and Carlos Mane in the line-up especially if the manager decides to go all attacking in so as to get a result against a decent Chelsea side.

Mourinho on his part will be left with a hard decision to make as regarding his likely line-up bearing in mind the London derby against Arsenal on Sunday. Thibaut Courtois will likely keep his place in between the sticks in place of the experienced and trusted Petr Cech. More so, because he had a clean sheet against Aston Villa his second after returning from his loan spell at Atletico Madrid.

The back four of Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry(C), and Azpilicueta will keep their place except for Azpilicueta who will likely make way for Luiz at left back.

With Ramires continuing his recovery from injury, Fabregas will look to partner Nemanja Matic in the central midfield position with Willian, Oscar and Hazard taking their place behind the lone striker. I expect Hazard to start irrespective of the poor game he had at Villa Park though André Schürrle could take Willians position leaving the Brazilian on the bench while his compatriot-Oscar will clearly get the nod as he has been impressive in his last two starts against Bolton and Aston Villa.

Who takes up the lone striker role will depend on what gamble and risk Mourinho is willing to entertain. Chelsea new boy- Diego Costa will be favourite but with reports he cannot start three games in a week due his hamstring making the round, it’s unlikely. Loic Remy looks the best bet to take up his position as many Chelsea fan will not want to entertain the idea of club legend- Didier Drogba repeating his insipid performance against Schalke04 a fortnight ago.

It is still expected though, that Diego Costa overcomes his hoodoo hamstring and makes the line-up.

Probable Line-up:

For Sporting CP:

  • Rui Patricio, Mauricio, Mahamadou-Naby, Cristian, Cedric, Willian, Joao, Adrien, Nani, Carrilo, Slimani.

For Chelsea:

  • Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Luis, Matic, Fabregas, Willian, Hazard, Schurrle, Costa.

What is your expected line-up?

 Posted by at 6:29 pm
Sep 172014

With both Premiership and Champions league fixtures coming in thick and fast, most top clubs around Europe are careful not exhaust their players by playing them in midweek and immediately again at weekends. Clubs with a robust budget usually acquire depth players to fill the roster, in other to be provided with security when a first team player needs a bit of rest.

One problem that spending on depth might cause, is the fact that many players who are purchased with a secondary role in mind are usually not good enough to fill in, when any of the original eleven can’t play. If a substitute represents an enormous drop in quality, then the team will do badly when he plays.

One team that obviously doesn’t have this problem is Chelsea, who has managed to acquire good quality depth. This is sure to come in handy on Wednesday night as they face Schalke 04 in the Champions League.

Wednesday’s clash is crucial, not because Schalke will present that big of a problem, but because the Blues have a title defining clash against Manchester City on Sunday. If Chelsea were to lose any of its key players to injury, then the match against City may tilt towards the noisy neighbours.

Jose Mourinho has the luxury of preserving his key players by replacing them with other capable members of the team. We will first identify the players that the Chelsea boss needs to rest for the match against Manchester City.

Diego Costa has netted seven goals thus far including a hat trick in the last game against Swansea. Cesc Fabregas has assisted six times for the blues, while Ivanovic despite being a right back has also scored twice and assisted once.

Either Loic Remy or Drogba can replace Costa, while Filipe Luis can take Ivanovic’s place. Cesc Fabregas on other hand has multiple deputies in Willian who can replace him in the No. 10 role, and Mikel who can fill in for him in the pivot.

Petr Cech, one of the best goal-keepers in the world can fill in for Courtios, and even Kurt Zouma can give ‘old man’ Terry a rest.

If Chelsea’s starting eleven were to be rotated for Wednesday’s match against Schalke, it would look like this;

Cech, Cahill, Zouma, F.Luis, Azpilicueta, Mikel, Ramires, Willian, Salah, Schurrie, Drogba.

The above team in my opinion isn’t any worse than the team that played Bayern in the Champions League final in 2012. That team had the likes of Kalou and Betrand playing both wings and the aging Lampard pairing with Mikel in the pivot.

Although Chelsea risk losing the match if they play with a weakened side, the injury stricken Schalke 04 side, who have also just lost their captain Howedes to injury today, won’t pull an upset.

It is my opinion that Chelsea have a lot to gain and very little to lose. You can always come back from a first game defeat in the Champions League (they did it just last year) but a loss to your closest rival for the league title, has both psychological and table defining effects.

 Posted by at 9:37 am
Sep 162014

Chelsea begins their Champions League campaign this season with a match against German heavyweights Schalke 04 in Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. The Blues are in scintillating form having won four out of their first four matches of the season, while the Germans on the other hand, are having their worst start ever to a Bundesliga season. Jans Keller’s side are without a win this season and were recently whitewashed 4-1 away at Borussia Monchengladbach. And With key players like Jefferson Farfan, Atsuto Uchida, Sead Kolasinac and Joel Matip all out injured, the German side are likely to have a torrid time against last year’s semi-finalist.

The Blues have no severe injury concerns and seem rearing to go, on the back of a 4-2 victory at the Liberty stadium over the weekend. With players like Costa, Fabregas, Ivanovic and Remy all in good form, another impressive performance from the London team seems inevitable.

Essential Facts

Chelsea beat Schalke by 3 goal margins in both the home and away fixtures in the Champions League last season.

Chelsea’s record against Bundesliga opponents is P16 W9 D4 L4

Chelsea’s defeat by Basel last season was their first defeat on match day one in the Champions league.

Chelsea’s record against the Bundesliga outfit is impressive, as they have won 3 times and only drawn once versus the German side.

Recent Form

Chelsea:     WWWW

Schalke 04: LLDL

It is important that Chelsea get off to a good start against what is possibly their toughest opponent, in a group that includes Sporting Lisbon and Maribor. A win here means that Jose Mourinho’s team goes into their next English premiership match without the undue pressure of haven lost a match; they should have won quite easily. A win on Wednesday puts the Blues in pole position to go into the latter matches of the group stages, confident of a first place finish, which will enable the manager, try out new players and new formations in preparation for the knockout stages. Another advantage will be the possibility of getting a 2nd placed team from a different group as a second round opponent.

In light of the Blues very encouraging campaign in the Premier League, the Portuguese tactician will also be looking to rest a few key players for this fixture in anticipation of their heavy weight clash with last season’s English Premier League Champions, Manchester City. With players such as Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic forming the basis of the London side’s consistently positive form, Mourinho will not want to risk any of his untouchables picking up an injury that will side line them for trips to important league matches like Sunday’s clash with City, and also subsequent meetings with Aston Villa and Arsenal.

Wednesday’s clash may see players like Willian, Salah, Remy, Drogba and the left back Filipe Luis being given a chance to show what they can offer Chelsea this season.

Possible line ups:

Chelsea: Courtios, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Ivanovic, Luis, Mikel, Matic, Willian, Salah, Hazard, Drogba

Shalke 04: Fahrmann, Clemems, Ayan, Howedes, Aogo, Neustader, Boateng, Draxler, Huntelaar, Sam, Choupo-Moting

Despite a good chance of rotational changes in the Chelsea team, we tip the Blues to still run out winners, in what promises to be an epic Champions League clash.

 Posted by at 5:33 pm
Sep 152014

After being dropped from Saturday’s squad to face the Welsh side Swansea, due to an injury picked up in training, the prolific Ivorian is set to start his first game for the club since his return. Speaking with Journalists on Saturday, the Portuguese tactician hailed the former Galatasary man as a ‘box expert’ ahead of their crucial European clash on Wednesday, with Schalke 04;

“…We have a guy like Didier who is a box expert, a kind of striker that the box is his natural habitat”Mourinho

Indeed, he’s credentials in front goal is unquestionable, especially for the Blues for whom he’s scored more goals than any other foreign player, whilst also being their fourth highest goal scorer of all time.

If and when the big striker is eventually utilized by Jose, every supporter of the London club can be sure that Didier will give a superb account of himself.

At age 36, Drogba is getting to the end of his illustrious career and it is clear that millions of aspiring footballers will have a lot to learn from the exemplary way that he has plied his trade.

Studying accounting in the university while struggling to become a professional footballer, it took the Ivorian four years to be capable of training everyday and playing every week according to his then manager at Le Mans, Marc Westerloppe. Such determination to succeed became a recurring theme in his career, and younger footballers will do well to emulate such dedication.

Outside the football pitch, Drogba has also been credited with accomplishments such as his role in bringing peace to Ivory Coast, being appointed a Goodwill ambassador and the creation of the Didier Drogba foundation that helped build hospitals in his home country.

Didier’s taste for success and his determination to work towards achieving it, as well as his self sacrifice has made sure that the man fondly called ‘The drog’ by his teammates and friends alike, will at the end of it all, be known for much more than just being a football player.

The role he played by making a plea to the combatants and subsequently helping to move a nations cup qualifier to the Rebel stronghold of Bouake that helped him confirm the peace process, coupled with his joining and association with the Truth, Reconciliation and Dialogue committee as a representative, saw him recognized by the Times as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

It is clear in a way, that footballers like him are a dying breed with the younger generation of players more focused on what they can get for themselves in today’s financially charged football. How many footballers today, will give up a signing fee of over 3 million pounds so that others less fortunate can get assess to good health care?

When the 36year old time in football has ended, both Chelsea and non-Chelsea supporters will look back at his time in English football, and be grateful that the DRUG was here.

 Posted by at 1:46 pm
May 022014

Chelsea winger, Eden Hazard has criticized his manager tactics in the aftermath of the team losing 3-1 at home to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night to further fuel speculations that the high rated Belgian could be set for the exit door.

The Belgian who was the London club’s only bright outlet of the game but was stifled by the Atletico defenders tactics was disappointed in the manner of the loss, taking a jibe at his manager Jose Mourinho who he claims did not set them u to play football.

“Chelsea aren’t set up to play football,” the former Lille star told beIN SPORTS’ French station.

Chelsea started the game on the front foot, taking the lead before crumbling to a spirited performance from the Atleti players who scored three goals and reduced Captain John Terry to tears at the end.

The 23-year old Hazard was at loss of words as to how the team lost after taking the lead but conceded that Chelsea are better as a counter-attacking side and that Atletico won because they were more determined.

“Chelsea are set up to counter-attack – a little bit like Real against Bayern. I don’t know what we lacked. After scoring, we had the game in our hands. Maybe they wanted it more than we did,” the gifted winger and playmaker concluded.

Jose Mourinho got to the semi-final stage at the expense of French money bags, PSG and earned a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Spain and a 2-0 win at Liverpool last weekend playing a ultra-defensive game which has been chided by the fans and media alike, except, well, Chelsea fans who were cresting on the wave of the Only One’s mind games.

It is not known yet what Mourinho makes of his star player’s outburst and definitely, the last has not been heard.

 Posted by at 9:35 am
Apr 302014

With the second leg of the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions league slated for tonight, Jose Mourinho will be desperate to claim a trophy that eluded him in his first stint as Chelsea’s boss and there is every reason to believe he may finally get his hands on the trophy this season.

Here are the Five Reasons Why Chelsea Will win the champions league this season

1. They have strength in depth

Eden Hazard, John Terry, Nemanja Matic, Petr Cech, John Obi Mikel, Samuel Eto’o, Frank Lampard and a host of other players have missed some of their matches this season either through suspension, Injuries, Ineligibility but Chelsea seems to have good replacements for them. A factor that has propelled them into the semi-final already.

2. Solid Defence

Most of Europe’s top team have struggled to break Chelsea’s defensive formations, which explains why they have conceded only Eight goals in 11 matches in the competition this year, the most fewer of all teams at this stage. Our stingy defense may help bring back the trophy we won some 3 seasons ago back to where it rightly belongs.

3. Impact from the bench

When Eden Hazard got injured after just 18minutes in the second leg of the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League against PSG, many felt Chelsea’s chances have been depleted but Andre Schurrle replaced him and made an instant impact by putting them ahead.

Then Demba Ba who came in to score the winning goal with three minutes left, thereby sending them into the semi-finals. This will go a long way to help Chelsea this season as opposing teams will not only be scared of the starting 11 but also worry about the substitutions Mourinho will make during the match.

4. Experienced Players

In football, experience goes a long way. Petr Cech and John Terry both have over 100 UEFA Champions League appearances and the list goes on and on. Again Samuel Eto’ has scored 30 UCL goals, with his last coming against Galatasaray. All these add up to give Chelsea an edge.

5. Jose Mourinho

We all know Jose Mourinho is a born winner. A man who has won two champions league titles with two different clubs in two different countries will definitely be eager to win a third so as to go into the history books. He knows better than anyone what pushes you over the finishing line to win the UCL crown.

 Posted by at 6:06 pm
Apr 222014

The Jose Mourinho led Chelsea FC flew out to Spain with a 20-man strong squad as they face La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the UEFA semi final at Vincente Calderon tonight.

Unfortunately for them, striker Samuel Eto’o would not in action in Madrid as he is yet to recover from the knee injury he sustained in their 2 – 1 loss to Sunderland last weekend. On a brighter note, Eden Hazard would be part of the travelling party and hopefully would play against Atletico Madrid. He had missed the last three matches due to calf injury he sustained in the last leg of their quarter final game against Paris Saint-Germain.

First choice goalkeeper Petr Cech is also back after missing out the weekend encounter against Sunderland due to illness. He is set to be in goal in tonight’s encounter.

Bransilav Ivannovich did not join the team to Madrid. He is on suspension after receiving three bookings in the competition, while Nemanja Matic and Mohammed Salah were left behind at west London. They are both ineligible since they’ve played Champions League this season for their former clubs.

Mourinho’s 20 man list include:


Petr Cech, Mark Scwarzer, Hilario


David Luiz, Cahill, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Nathan Ake, , Cesar Azpilicueta, Tomas Kalas


Marco Van Ginkel, Ramires, Frank Lampard, Oscar, John Obi Mikel, Eden Hazrad, Willian, Andre Schurrle


Fernando Torres, Demba Ba

Cesar Azpilicueta conceded a penalty at the weekend but would now be operating from his natural right back position in this game. Ashley Cole should play on the left-back side while Cahill and John Terry would make up the likely centre-half pairing.

Daivid Luiz had always had good performances against big clubs and hopefully today will be no exception. His most likely partner will be Ramires since Frank Lampard and John Mikel Obi run the risk of suspension should they be booked in this game.

Willian too could miss the return leg if he picks up a yellow card at Madrid. He had created nine chances for his team mates in their loss against Sunderland more than any Premier League player in a single game. Oscar is likely to play his traditional No. 10 position although his form has dipped considerably with Andre Schurrle making up the attacking trio on the right.

Will this 20 man squad be strong enough to contain a very determined, giant-conquering Atletico side? We are just a few hours to finding out.

 Posted by at 4:10 pm
Apr 222014

As Chelsea get set to take on Atletico Madrid in the first leg semi final match of the UEFA Champ[ions League tonight, many people are of the opinion that it could go either way at the end of regulation time as both clubs appear to be evenly matched.

The winner of both legs would square up against either Real Madrid or the German champions Bayern Munich. Madrid has dubbed itself the “City of Champions” and Diego Simeone agrees no less.

The Argentine has crafted a team that is very similar in style like Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. An Atletico Madrid that is compact at the back, lethal on counter attack, hardworking and one that has the drive and winning mentality. They already have a well documented ability to win trophies and cause major upsets.

Tonight’s encounter will be a match characterized by 90 + minutes of intense football action in which two teams that appear to be evenly matched slug it out on the pitch. An encounter that would pitch two deep-thinking coaches against each other. Both coaches are very familiar with each other having both been in the Spanish La Liga for several years.

According to Atletico Madrid’s Coach;

“We are not the same but it is true that we are similar” he said on the subject of both teams.

‘The defence who concedes the fewest goals in the Premier League is that of Chelsea and another in La Liga is that of Atletico Madrid.

“We work hard defensively with a direct approach and good set-pieces. These are the similarities that have allowed them to fight for the Premier League and for us to be where we are today in the La Liga.

According to him, the match would be a tight one. The outcome of the game would be decided by attention to small details and team work.

He gave a hint of Torres’ possible return to Atletico Madrid

“He is a lad who belongs to Atletico no matter where he is playing. He has great memories and loves the club and the people of the club. Before kickoff and after the game he will have the ovation he deserves because this is his home and he is one of us”.

As both clubs gear up to face each other tonight, I expect a very thrilling encounter. Both sides are well matched, equally thirsty for victory, with two coaches that are good at what they do. If current form and determination is anything to consider, I’ll give it to the Madrid side to go through.

 Posted by at 2:14 pm
Apr 142014

As reports emerge in Spain that Courtois will not file out against Chelsea during the Champions League semi-final; there have also been rumours of Atletico’s plan to extend his loan deal for another season.

The Blues are expected to play against the current La Liga leaders in the semi-final of this season’s Champions League. As reported in the Mirror, Chelsea on loan keeper, Courtois will not be featuring in both legs probably due to agreement both clubs reached during the signing of the loan deal. The Mirror is citing a publication by Spanish paper, Marca.

Courtois has been outstanding for Diego Simeone’s Atletico this season and even season before; winning the Copa de Rey Cup with the club in the process. The Belgian keeper who has enjoyed a steady rise in his development is tipped as the hair to current Chelsea goalkeeper, Petr Cech.

Chelsea on the other hand do not see any reason why the young Belgian should not be able to feature for Atletico. In a statement made by chief executive, Ron Gourlay, he said:

“As far as the player is concerned, Thibaut, he can play against Chelsea, in both ties, if he is selected…That is fact.”

Gourlay made the statement following various claims in the press that the Belgian is ineligible to play against his parent club because of a clause inserted into his contract. Europe’s football governing boy, EUFA also came out to declare any attempt to deny the keeper an opportunity to play against his parent club as null.

”Both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations contain clear provisions which strictly forbid any club to exert, or attempt to exert, any influence whatsoever over the players that another club may (or may not) field in a match.

”It follows that any provision in a private contract between clubs which might function in such a way as to influence who a club fields in a match is null, void and unenforceable so far as UEFA is concerned…, EUFA said.

It is not clear where the Spanish tabloid got its story from; but EUFA is clear on what the rule says. I want to stand by the club’s public statement that Courtois is eligible to play against us. I hope our strikers find their scoring boots as we will need to be at our best to get past the Belgian international.

 Posted by at 1:52 pm
Apr 122014

Chelsea have once again found themselves in the Semi-finals of Europe’s biggest club competition – the UEFA Champions League. In a season that the Blues have had their fair share of ups and downs,they’ve have done well to get to this stage – two matches away from Lisbon.

Chelsea turned around the first leg deficit of the quarterfinal at Stamford Bridge in a spectacular way. Chelsea appeared to be on their way out of the tournament as they were defeated comprehensively by PSG in Paris. But just like the Napoli tie in 2012, all Chelsea needed was to get back on their ground to do the job. An Andre Schurlle goal and a late Demba Ba goal did the job for Jose Mourinho’s men in London.

Chelsea are no strangers at this stage of the competition. The west London club have reached the semifinal stage of this completion for the 7th time since the 2003/2004 season. The only other club that have this record is Barcelona. Other teams that have qualified for the Champions League semifinals are Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid, Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich and surprise package of the competition so far, Atletico Madrid.

The race is getting just as interesting as the scramble for tickets for all chelsea football matches on footballtickettrade.com. At this point, there are no easy teams again. Only the strongest have struggled to get to this stage and only the best two teams will make it to Lisbon. Having said that, one is tempted to ask which club will be slightly favourable for Chelsea as we approach the draw for the semifinal. It’s not really about weakness now. It’s more like getting a team against which Chelsea tactics will work for them perfectly considering the type of players the teams have.

Real Madrid.

Mourinho was the Real Madrid manager before he left the Spanish capital last summer. Except minor additions [Gareth Bale, Iscoetc], He’s definitely familiar with the team. Having the Los Blancos as an opponent won’t be easy for any team. The Madrid team currently has some of the best players and a very good manager on their books.

Real Madrid’s style of play is very similar to that of Chelsea. The only difference is that they play the counterattacking system perfectly and they don’t really sit back. When you have fast and very good wingers in the mold of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Angel Di Maria, there’slittle opposing teams can do to get a result.

The reason why Real Madrid will roll over Chelsea is due to the fact that they play the same style and Real play the style better. As if that is not enough, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea don’t really have any alternative to that style…no plan B. Maybe the team will park their infamous Bus.

Atletico Madrid.

Atletico Madrid have had to prove doubters wrong over and over again. They are on their way to the La Liga title for the first time since 1996 and are the only team unbeaten so far in the Champions League. Under formal player, Diego Simeone, Atletico have become an amazing football machine oiled by the superb performances of talismanic Diego Costa, Koke and ArdaTuran.

If Real Madrid plays the same as Chelsea [counterattack], Atletico are everything like Chelsea. They are very tight at the back just like Chelsea. The only difference is that they are not reliant on counter attack like Chelsea and Real Madrid. They play a free-flowing attacking football – almost like Bayern Munich under JuppHeynckes. With Costa and David Villa, the goals continue to flow.

The Atletico players are very determined, resilient and hungry for success. All these reflect in the way they play. The players are very motivated. They have the same attitude that Chelsea had in 2012. This makes them very dangerous. Most people see Atletico as the underdogs of this stage – the ‘dark horse’ if you will. Those people are wrong. The underdog tag is just a smokescreen working well for them. They are very dangerous.

Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich poses a slightly different problem. Pep Guardiola has not wasted time in impacting his tiki-taka blueprint on the Bavarian side. Watching Bayern Munich now is like watching Messi, Xavi and Iniesta pass around the ball in La Liga. The good thing is that, it is easier to beat a team that plays tiki-taka with a perfect counterattacking model – an advantage for Chelsea.

If Chelsea can get their acts together and stay tight at the back against Bayern Munich, then there’s a huge chance of getting to the final. When Chelsea met Bayern in the UEFA Super Cup back in August, the Blues almost got the trophy. A lapse in concentration at the back gifted Bayern Munich the vital chance they needed. Same thing when they played Arsenal and Manchester United.

If both team are drawn against each other, Jose Mourinho will relish the chance to get one over his old rival. Chelsea will also be out for revenge after the German side defeated them in the Super Cup.

Bayern Munich is the most favourable draw Chelsea will get. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will be very hard to get past.

 Posted by at 9:40 am