Ahead of the match tonight at Stamford Bridge the Nordsjaelland manager Kasper Hjulmand has said he hopes his side can capitalise on the unrest at Chelsea to gain an advantage. The Danish side have already caused on upset in the group by claiming a draw with Juventus, but are expected to lose heavily tonight despite Chelsea’s internal upheaval.
Chelsea are of course relying on Shakhtar to beat Juventus to have any chance of qualifying from the group, but the odds are not as set against them as has been suggested. Marchisio and Chiellini will be missing for the Italian side in Donetsk tonight, and there is no love lost between the Juventus manager Antonio Conte and Mircea Lucescu, the coach at Shakhtar. The Shakhtar owner Rinat Akhmetov is also reportedly a friend of Roman Abramovich.
Commenting on the situation Benitez has said his side don’t need a miracle, but acknowledged Chelsea may need a little bit of luck to go through:
“I don't think it's a miracle. We have to do our job and wait for the other teams.''
For Eden Hazard, the pressure of trying to qualify from the last group match is a familiar feeling, with the Belgian player part of the Lille team that was knocked out as a result of a 0-0 draw with Trabzonspor in last year’s Champions League. Benitez has also admitted today that Hazard is capable of more than he has shown in recent performances.
In Champions League news from last night, there are already indications that Hulk may be unsettled at Zenit, and would want to leave as soon as January. The Brazilian striker is at loggerheads with coach Luciano Spalletti, and Chelsea could be one club that try to capitalise with a bid for the forward. However, FIFA regulations are unlikely to permit such a move as he has already played for two clubs this season.
One man who looks out of reach for the Blues at the moment is Edinson Cavani, with reports that the Chelsea target’s release clause has been raised to £77 million. Cavani has been in devastating form for Napoli again this season, scoring 16 goals fin all competitions already and helping them to 2nd in Serie A.
Chelsea’s new signing Wallace has stated that he was attracted to the club due to the amount of Brazilian players that are already at Stamford Bridge:
“I know Piazon, Luiz, Ramires and Oscar — that was an important factor in having all these people here. It’s always helpful having Brazilian team-mates playing alongside you, as they can give you some important advice about the lifestyle, the football and the language.”
One of those Brazilians – Ramires – is reportedly set to be axed by Benitez for the game tonight, as he looks for a more disciplined midfield. The trio of Oscar, Mata and Hazard may also be broken up, as Benitez looks for a more varied attack.