Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The English teams (and Arsenal) in the CL

Chelsea v. Bremen

With Michael Ballack standing tall in midfield, exuding nonchalance and skill, Chelsea look to open up Group A competition when Werder Bremen visit Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. “I know them well from Germany,” the former Bayern Munich player said. “They are the strongest team from the third group of seeds, so it is a big challenge for us. But we are not worried, we are strong.”

It’s time to watch Chelsea’s new superstar signings in action on the European stage, Blues fans will be keen to see if Roman Abramovich’s new acquisitions can bring success to London. Andriy Shevchenko, who has scored 43 goals in 80 appearances in the tournament, and Ballack, a CL runner-up with Bayern Munich in 2002, are seen as the Russian oil tycoon’s means to clinching silver in Athens on May 23rd.

It will be interesting to see how Frank Lampard will respond to mounting criticism after his performance with England (despite assisting on a goal in their victory over Macedonia last week) and his third miss from the penalty spot in four attempts (should Jose give this job to Sheva orBallack?) on Saturday.

You can even see a bit of sloppiness or lack of fresh legs in John Terry’s performance against Charlton in their 2-1 victory, but Ricardo Carvalho has done well filling in for the departed Gallas. They should be happy to have Claude Makelele back in the squad after playing for France. Teams often go into Stamford Bridge happy to come away with a point, but I’m not sure if European teams buy into the reputation of invincibility as much as middling Premiership teams do, and you can be sure Barcelona’s not worried.

But the pressure is on Werder Bremen, who are without their World Cup striker Miroslav Klose (thigh injury) and goalkeeper Tim Wiese (bronchitis). Bremen sit in fifth in the Bundesliga, and were runners-up to Bayern Munich last year. German internationals Tim Borowski and Torsten Frings are also doubtful. In addition to getting knocked out of the German cup by a third division team, this Bremen squad is looking uphill to challenge Mourinho’s squad.

As much as I’m looking for Chelsea to blunder and drop some points on this one, I think they’ll walk all over Werder Bremen, 2-1 to the Blues
Mourinho steeled on Bremen task

Other CL news

Injured Henry to miss Euro tie
[BBC Sport]
PSV v. Liverpool [BBC Sport]
Showpiece occasion at Old Trafford

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