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Chelsea vs Copenhagen- Its time to take the odd risks or is it?

16 Mar 2011, 16:15 IST

Chelsea FC vs FC Copenhagen

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the most prestigious meetings in the National Hunt racing calendar in the United Kingdom and it’s 2011 edition has got off to a flying start with millions of money put on gambling and betting. If Matt Hughes of “THE TELEGRAPH” is to be believed Carlo Ancelloti has too been bitten by this ‘betting bug’. Not that he hasn’t got a valid point. Ahead of the crucial Champions League pre-quarterfinal 2nd leg tie, Ancelloti  has revealed that he is certainly going to rest few of his key players including Fernando Torres , Michael Essien and left back Ashley Cole. With a clash against against Manchester City coming up this weekend and Chelsea having already secured a 2-0 lead in the first leg, it seems to be a relatively wise decision. However, in a tricky European night such as this, it does not take much for a so called “wise decision” to go all wrong within a blink of an eye!

It has been a long wait for Chelsea. Having had played just one game in a span of 11 days, the rotation policy might just freshen up some rusty legs. Carlo Ancelloti is a master tactician in Europe and he will very well know that a slip-up may cost his stay at Chelsea. But the fact that he still chose to rest his key players, just shows how Chelsea have evolved from the wretched run, since their victories over Manchester United and Blackpool.

The decision to start Torres from the bench will certainly see the old partnership of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka to take the field again. Much have been said about Torres not scoring goals in his first five matches but that should be the least of the concerns for Ancelloti as its only a matter of time before a striker of his quality gets his scoring boots on. His tiresome efforts have certainly impressed the Chelsea faithfuls if not the others. Afterall Andrei Shevchenko scored in his first match for Chelsea but later ended up not being as successful as he should have been and Dennis Bergkamp took about 11 hours to score his first goal for Arsenal but went on to be a legend at Highbury. So,its quite early to draw a conclusion on him.

The midfield will be strong and compact even without the presence of Michael Essien. However John Obi Mikel being just a yellow card away from suspension, may force Ancelloti to play Essien alongside Frank Lampard and Ramires. It may be yet another Champions League start for Yury Zhirkov with the talks of Ashley Cole being rested.

As for Copenhagen, they have nothing to lose. Being 2-0 down, they have no other choice but to go all-out. However, odds are stacked highly against them, considering the fact that Stamford Bridge has been like fortress for Chelsea,having lost there just once in 25 games. Copenhagen will be fearless in their attitude and should be ready to pounce on every slight oppurtunity.  Chelsea should make sure they shut them out nice and early . Afterall, strange things happen in football and playing through the motions with mind set upon on the quater finals may well spell curtains for Chelsea and kick-start a Copenhagen revival

Chelsea must understand that their season is poised at a very delicate stage. One right or wrong step may well make or break the season. Every move they make, should be made carefully. Ancelloti and his boys should certainly know better. As for the fans, a rivetting last few months of the season awaits them. They’ll be hoping for the final frontier to be conquered, come May.

The Permutations and Combinations

  1. The match is unlikely to go to the dreaded extra time and penalties barring a 2-0 win for Copenhagen.
  2. Any Chelsea goal will mean that the game will invariably be decided within the 90 minutes with away goals coming to the rescue in case of a tie.
  3. A two goal victory margin for Copenhagen(except 2-0) will mean they go through courtesy the away goal rule.
  4. A win,draw or a loss by less than 2 goals for Chelsea should mark their progress to the quarter-finals.

The Probable Line-ups:

Chelsea FC- Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Zhirkov; Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Malouda; Drogba, Anelka.

FC Copenhagen- Wiland; Kvist, Zanka Jorgensen, Antonnson, Wendt; Bolanos, Claudemir, Kristensen, Vingaard; Santin, N’Doye.

My Prediction

A 2-0 deficit will be a bit too much for Copenhagen. But having reached so far, they may pride themselves for their achievements. I predict another 2-0 win for Chelsea in the second leg.

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